Timothy and I Watch Patriotic Submarines

[Garbled but extensive spoilers for “Hunter Killer” 2018]

[Scene: the palatial personal movie theatre underneath Felapton Towers (remodelled from the second wine cellar). Timothy the Talking Cat and his amanuensis Camelback Freshwater are sitting down for Movie Night.]

  • Camestros: I feel that after we introduced “Movie Afternoons”, we may have watched too many crappy movies.
    • Timothy: It was “Movie Breakfasts” that really made the difference.
  • Camestros: There is literally nothing I want to watch here…
    • Timothy: We could…
  • Camestros: No, no, we are not watching Cats again. Look, maybe it’s time to go outside?
    • Timothy: No way! It’s a hellscape out there! A seething dystopian nightmare! Woke mobs are cancelling cats for not wearing masks! It’s EU commissioners herding us inside our borders and stealing our holiday homes in the South of France and forcing us to use metric! It’s Attack on Titan but with giant buck naked Boris Johnsons eating people! There are SCOTTISH people about!
  • Camestros: Could you not just stick to one wildly inflated conspiracy theory at a time?
    • Timothy: Oh, that’s EXACTLY what THEY want us to do!
  • Camestros: OK, ok…how about this then. Hunter Killer starring Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman.
    • Timothy: Oh I like Gerard Butler. He was very Spartan in that film Oh Look At Us Big Manly Spartans! Will he be wearing a shirt this time? Oh, will he be a CGI cat this time? Will he? Will he be a big manly Spartan cat with CGI fur? Will he be a be a big manly Spartan cat with CGI fur but he is in an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical about the battle of Thermotherapy?
  • Camestros: 1. Thermopylae and 2. no and 3. please stop singing “This is Sparta” to the tune of Rum Tum Tugger. It doesn’t even scan right.
    • Timothy: Look, look Camerawarehouse! It has submarines in it!
  • Camestros: Well now it has my interest! Submarine films are the best!
    • Timothy: Better than Star Trek films?
  • Camestros: Star Trek films ARE submarine films! Wrath of Khan in particular! Submarine films are all science fiction films even the ones that aren’t science fiction. You could shoot a documentary on a submarine and it would still be science fiction. That’s just how genres work.
    • Timothy: Hoorah! We found a film! Submarines for you and jingoistic American militarism for me!
  • Camestros: You know Gerard Butler isn’t American right?
    • Timothy: Obviously. He’s Spartan not American…but America is the modern day Sparta. That is why Americans eschew all luxuries and wear only loin cloths and bandoliers.

[The film starts]

  • Camestros: Shsss, the film has started.
    • Timothy: [quietly] when does the singing start?
  • Camestros: Shsssssss
    • Timothy: …
  • Camestros: …
    • Timothy: OK, I have no idea what is going on.
  • Camestros: So that first submarine is a Russian submarine and it’s just going about it’s business submarinally. The second submarine is an American Hunter Killer…
    • Timothy: Like the movie title!
  • Camestros: ..like the movie title. It is stealthily following the Russian submarine, I guess to practice sneaking up on Russia submarines. Then, to everybody’s surprise the Russian submarine explodes for no reason.
    • Timothy: Ooops.
  • Camestros: Indeed, ‘oops’. Then a THIRD submarine which is even sneakier than the US submarine torpedoes the US submarine.
    • Timothy: Wow…a Russian Hunter Killer Hunter Killer. A hunter killer squared if you will.
  • Camestros: And now the Pentagon or the Navy or the Joint Chief of Staffs — I confess I’m not sure and I don’t think it matters, people in Washington, whatever — are all ‘oh no! Submarines are exploding far more than submarines should!’
    • Timothy: They’ll need a patriotic manly man to sort out that sort of mess!
  • Camestros: Looks like they have one!
    • Timothy: [screams semi-incoherently] Scotland!
  • Camestros: Where has this Scotophobia come from this week? You never used to have a fear of things Scottish.
    • Timothy: I like to try out new things. In particular I like to try out new irrational fears and bigotted dislikes. See…it’s right here in my job description for ‘household cat’.
  • Camestros: That is meant to just cover fear of cucumbers or taking a sudden dislike to a brand of cat food, not whole nationalities. Never mind. Gerard Butler is in Scotland, wearing camouflage and hunting deer with a bow and arrow.
    • Timothy: Why?
  • Camestros: That is a secret Timothy, known only to those who made the film. Best not to ask.
    • Timothy: Oh, is it because he is a hunter and a killer like the movie title?
  • Camestros: Apparently not because, as we see, he decides not to shoot the big deer because the deer has a family.
    • Timothy: I too was moved by the film Bambi.
  • Camestros: ‘moved’ to attack the screen every time Thumper was on.
    • Timothy: He looked tasty! What can I say: I’m an obligate carnivore. A cat’s goin’ to cat.
  • Camestros: OK, well Butler is the man for the job. He’s a down to earth sailor who rose through the ranks and is one of the men, not one of those snobby elite officer types even though he is a captain.
    • Timothy: This IS SPARTA!!!
  • Camestros: This is Faslane where Britain keeps her submarines but in this case it is an American submarine that was having a sleepover.
    • Timothy: Oh, thank goodness we are back in Britain and not in scary Scotland any more.
  • Camestros: I…never mind, it will take too long explain…
  • Camestros: OK, let’s try and concentrate on the film.
  • Camestros: This film really is Tom Clancy but every so often somebody realises Tom Clancy stories make no sense and they try and make this one make sense but it still really doesn’t make sense.
    • Timothy: Who is that human?
  • Camestros: Linda Cardellini. We like Linda Cardellini. Actually, this whole cast is pretty good and they are doing their best to make this all seem serious and thoughtful.
    • Timothy: I still don’t understand what is going on. Why do people keep shooting each other?
  • Camestros: Nobody has really shot anybody yet. OK, so we’ve had the whole submarine bit at the start. Meanwhile, the Russian President is off to a naval base not far from where the submarines blew up BUT he was heading there BEFORE they blew up. There are shenanigans going on. Gary Oldman thinks there is a war coming, the navy guy played by (checks notes) Common isn’t sure what is going on and Linda Cardellini is a spook who suspects shenanigans of some kind.
    • Timothy: And the hipster baristas?
  • Camestros: …are a special ops team who are going to spy on the naval base.
    • Timothy: Disguised as hipster baristas?
  • Camestros: Not everybody with a beard is a hipster or a barista. However, you raise a good point. Surely the CIA or somebody has some actual spies in Russia who could just stroll over to the naval base to see what is going on. Parachuting a bunch of camo-clad special forces types with big guns to stake out a Russian naval base seems like a bad idea if what you are trying to do is AVOID a war.
    • Timothy: Also, a local spy would know where to get fresh milk for the coffee-frother thing.
  • Camestros: Nobody’s plan here makes any sense.
  • Camestros: At last! Some tense submarine action!
    • Timothy: That was exciting!
  • Camestros: Submarines shooting torpedoes at each other! A daring undersea rescue! Everybody having to be super quiet for a bit!
    • Timothy: Left full rudder!
  • Camestros: Right full rudder!
    • Timothy: Oh, they brought the Scottish captain on board.
  • Camestros: Russian, not Scottish.
    • Timothy: I think you will find he is actually Swedish.
  • Camestros: Don’t be silly (check’s notes)…oh, you are right for once. The late Michael Nyqvist in his last film role.
    • Timothy: He’s decided to hell Gerard Butler because he has such nice eyes.
  • Camestros: That is as good an explanation as any.
  • Camestros: Let’s recap shall we.
    • Timothy: No need, as I have a perfect understanding of the plot so far.
  • Camestros: Seriously? Do tell.
    • Timothy: Well it is simple. Nicola Sturgeon is plotting to have me killed for revealing the truth about the giant naked Boris Johnsons roaming the land eating people.
  • Camestros: I meant the film, not whatever is going on in the soap-opera of your irrational fears.
    • Timothy: Oh, I’ve know idea. I stopped paying attention when nobody started singing.
  • Camestros: OK. The Russian Defence Minister is plotting a coup. He sabotaged the first submarine to create an international incident and is plotting to start a war with the USA. To that end he has captured the Russian President and cut him off from communication and also shot his guards. Meanwhile, the US special forces team have infiltrated the Russian naval base and have communicated all this back to Washington.
    • Timothy: So all they have to do now is tell the Russians what is really going on and the Russian army can go and save the Russian President from the Russian Navy. Simple! And you said the plot made no sense!
  • Camestros: Apparently not. For some unexplained reason the only two options are 1. send the whole US navy to attack Russia or 2. get the special forces team to kidnap the Russian President and stuff him into Gerard Butler’s submarine, which has to sail into a heavily defended Russian Naval base at the end of a heavily mined Russian fjord.
    • Timothy: but…
  • Camestros: Yes, yes ‘let’s kidnap the Russian President’ is manifestly a very bad plan. However, Gary Oldman’s plan is somehow worse. Also the Russian Defence Minister coup-de-tat plan makes no sense either.

[Much shooting and explosions later]

  • Camestros: Well that was weird.
    • Timothy: I was disappointed World War Three didn’t start and the million year curse that was the ascendancy of humanity was not brought to an end by man’s own hubris.
  • Camestros: I mean…it was still nonsense but the resolution of everything was surprisingly good and sort of ran counter to the usual ethos of these films.
    • Timothy: Diplomacy is for wusses.
  • Camestros: I liked it. Basically, Butler is placed in yet another one of these very forced dilemmas that really aren’t, so that the ‘ethical’ and sensible thing for him to do is to open fire on the Russia base with the sub’s tomahawk missiles. They really boxed that in, so that it was the smart and right thing to do — even if just to save the Russian President’s life. It’s SO FORCED, it’s so using the plot to justify a fake angsty dilemma that I was groaning with the cliche of it…and then…he doesn’t fire the missiles
    • Timothy: The Russian ship saves them instead.
  • Camestros: Exactly. He trusts the crew of the Russian destroyer to make their own decision. They then save the sub and blow up the bad guys.
    • Timothy: I’m happy because they still blew up the bad guys.
  • Camestros: I’m happy because after a string of idiotic, plot-forced decisions, the film did something a bit clever right at the end.
    • Timothy: So it is a good film!
  • Camestros: Despite the last minute intervention of an interesting plot twist, this was not a good film. When the best line of dialogue is Gary Oldman shouting at a room full of people about how bad an idea kidnapping the Russian President and sticking him in a US submarine is, when that’s the premise of the film, AND he’s absolutely right, AND it somehow all works out in the end, then you really can’t say this is in anyway a good film.
    • Timothy: I liked it.
  • Camestros: You liked it because it was jingoistic, militaristic nonsense! I mean, even the twist resolution that I liked really boiled down to the idea that all military people are all brothers and all in it together against some vague group of higher-ups.
    • Timothy: I’m going to stage a coup though.
  • Camestros: Please don’t.

12 thoughts on “Timothy and I Watch Patriotic Submarines

  1. Idle thought: wouldn’t you expect submarines to implode, rather than explode? If you’re expecting them to… err…. plode in any manner, of course. I’m fairly sure that ploding is bad for submarines.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. In honor of this review (the conversation of which I pictured in shadow form like Mystery Science Theatre 3000), I shall henceforth refer to the training montage of Rocky IV as Runner Helper Hewer Puncher.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am impressed by the amount of sciencing in the comments.

    I hope Camestros will work up a graph or table that conclusively shows which way Hugo rockets plode before “The Cold Equations” gets made into a movie. Because you know we’ll want to award the producer one that does.

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