Friday (Movies) Review: Hunter Killer and Shattered

We watched these two Gerard Butler movies recently. Hunter Killer is the more recent of the two, released in 2018. Shattered (originally titled Butterfly on a Wheel) is from 2007. They are very different movies, so I am not going to try to compare them. I’ll just give a few thoughts.

Hunter Killer: ( 2.5 stars) This is your basic military action film. Gerard Butler is the captain of an American submarine sent to investigate a distress call from another American sub. They find the sub, sunk and with the crew dead. They also find a sunken Russian sub, but a few of her crew, including the captain, survived. They rescue the Russians, and in the course of figuring out what happened, discover a coup being plotted in the Russian government. Of course, it’s up to our boys to go in, rescue the kidnapped Russian president, and stop the plot.

It wasn’t a terrible film, as these types go. There was plenty of action, lots of bravado, and some decent performances. The problems, as is the case with a lot of films like this, were in the portrayal of the military stuff. Some of the Russian, in particular, military personnel and hardware looked like it came straight out of the Cold War. There were armaments, missiles in particular, that today would have been far more automated and less under direct human control. But, of course, that sort of thing isn’t tense and dramatic, so we make exceptions. If you are not hell bent on absolute authenticity in your military movies and just want to enjoy a lot of action in an okay military story, this movie should fit that bill nicely.

Shattered (4 stars) This one was pretty darn good. Neil (Butler) and Abby (Maria Bello) Warner are a lovely couple with a sweet little girl, Sophie. Neil has a business thing to go to, and Abby is spending the day with her girlfriends. They hire a sitter for Sophie, and Neil is giving Abby a ride to her day out when Tom Ryan (Pierce Brosnan) appears in their car and tells them that the nanny they hired works with him and they have kidnapped Sophie, and unless Neil and Abby do exactly as he says, they will never see their daughter again. He first asks for money, but then the demands get more and more personal and bizarre. Neil and Abby are forced to confront the limits of how far they will go to protect their daughter’s life. 

So, it sounds like the usual kidnapped rich kid story, right? And for the majority of the film, that’s exactly what it seems to be. But as it goes on and Tom’s demands get weirder and weirder, I kept getting the feeling that something else must be going on. And, yet, nothing seems to be pointing in any one direction- just this really sick weirdo asking two seemingly normal people to do strange things for no obvious reason. I won’t spoil the movie if you haven’t seen it, but the twist in the ending is pretty neat, and I did not see it coming.

It’s not a big action film. No car chases, explosions, big, brave heroics, or anything like that. It’s very low key as far as those things go. But it’s a twisty little puzzle and keeps you guessing not only about what is really going on but also on what Tom will demand next. If you like tense dramas and don’t need a lot of big action to go along with the tension, and movies that keep you guessing with some neat twists, you should really enjoy this one.

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