An English-speaking Russian submarine crew takes top-secret military technology out to deep waters in order to hold a close-quarters power struggle.
Don’t let me oversell it though, it’s a movie half as good as the films it borrows from.
Demi (Ed Harris) is a Russian submarine captain approaching retirement. After a considerable amount of time at sea, he’s asked by the High Command (represented by Lance Henriksen) to turn right around, and take his crew back out to sea. His mission? To take a soon to be decommissioned diesel submarine out to deep water in the Pacific, and then and only then open special, secret mission instructions.
He and his crew are accompanied by a couple of KGB Agents, led by Bruni (David Duchovny). The crew and the KGB are standoffish from the outset. They’re secretive about the mission, and they also scrutinize the captain and crew for any signs of disloyalty to the Party. So when the time comes to test the controversial technology, they’re already at odds with the boat’s officers. When the mission turns out to be something that potentially lead to World War III, it’s up to the Captain and his loyalists to ensure the safety of the world.
Sneaking through ducts and tubes ensues.
The one recommendable asset of “Phantom”, is that it’s a ninety minute opportunity to watch Ed Harris work. Harris is fantastic as always. It’s great to see him in a leading role, but this material isn’t worthy of his talents. Neither is his adversary here. He trades off well with his second in command (William Fichtner), but he’s on a completely different level than David Duchovny. What should be a fiery face off (see “Crimson Tide”) turns out to be an entirely one-sided show. Seeing as this should be the showcase of the film, the fact that it falls flat is a major flaw.
It’s certainly not the only flaw, however. Interspersed throughout are grating, garbled cut-aways intended to represent the captain’s seizures. The big mystery mission winds up turning into a very run of the mill Cold War rogue sub movie plot. The production values aren’t exactly top-notch, either. They built a close quarters submarine set, but didn’t exactly splurge on the occasional need for CGI for exterior shots. It all adds together to feel a little low rent. Plus, it’s all capped off with a shaky ending that, alone, could damage its score..
“Phantom” is not a very recommendable movie. Tell this one “Dosvedanya”. (<-More Russian than is spoken in the film)