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)


DDDaniel Fogarty

34 thoughts on “Phantom

  1. I’ve read that Duchovny was terribly miscast. I’ve also read the Harris is great. Still sounds like this one sinks. Maybe a DVD rental for me.

  2. I’m guessing that the title doesn’t help this movie. I was hoping for a Phantom movie (Purple spandex, 2 guns, skull ring…) or at least a scary movie. Just sounds like a fail all around. And after the spectacular failure of Last Resort on TV, why would they even consider bringing this out?

  3. Hi, Fogs and company:

    Every few years, Hollywood cranks out a composite film of other films. ‘Phantom’ sounds a lot like ‘Flight of the Intruder’. Which worked pretty well for the first 2/3 of the film. Then borrowed heavily from the 1958 Korean War, Air Force F-86 film, ‘The Hunters’ with Robert Mitchum and Robert Wagner.

    We all know the flick(s) ‘Phantom’ steals from. And even though I’m a huge, long time Ed Harris fan. I’ll ponder why it was even made or released? While waiting for it on HBO, Starz or Cinemax.

    • On Cable it might be ok. I can’t say on the whole why it would get made, but I’m sure Ed Harris took part because he was sick of waiting around for parts and he had the opportunity to lead a film.

      I just wish it was more worthy of his talents. 😦

  4. So as expected from the trailer, it’s a better idea to take a look at just about any other movie in the submarine mutiny genre?

    …Why the hell is that an entire genre?

  5. Thanks for the head’s up on this one! I was looking forward to it but it seems that I should just pass on it or I may subject myself to watching this drek on a saturday afternoon. Maybe not. I should just revisit “U571” instead.

  6. Aiyah… such a bummer this is so bad. I like Ed Harris and Duchovny, haven’t seen either of them in a while. Somehow when I read “An English-speaking Russian submarine crew” it reminds me of Hunt of Red October and K-19: The Widowmaker, wasn’t Harrison Ford attempting a Russian accent in that? Soooo ill-advised!

    • I actually havent SEEN K19. I take it that I lucked out? LOL

      I believe… and I could be wrong, but I believe that Hunt for Red October starts with Russian, and then they switch over… like there’s a couple of lines of dialogue. No? Could just be me.

      Anyways, this doesnt have a lot to offer, and I like Harris a lot, too. 😦

      • Yeah, too bad Harris hasn’t done a really good film worthy of his talent. Btw, have you seen Holy Motors yet? Check out my review, it’s a really bizarre movie that one.

      • I’m going to watch it this week, hopefully to review. Do me a favor though, ok? I’m clamping down on review plugging here, some people are out of control… I want to be consistent with it, so, do me a favor going forward and just know I subscribe to your site and see all your posts 😉

      • Ooops sorry, I didn’t mean to plug my review. I’m just curious what you think or if you’ve seen it as it’s one of those super bizarre movie that might not be on everyone’s radar. I won’t mention it again, sorry to be a bother.

      • Its fine, and I hate to have to say it.

        In my defense, this is the third comment in the last 24 hrs I’ve had to inform someone of my new stance on.

        Its gotten out of hand here Ruth, and unfortunately, friends like yourself will get caught in the crossfire.

      • Again, I apologize. I have people do the same thing on my site and I personally don’t mind as sometimes I miss someone’s post. But you won’t see that from me again.

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