One of Tony Scott's finer films, Crimson Tide is a well acted and tension ridden race against time thriller.
In some respects it is not that much different to other sub marine movies such as The Hunt for Red October or Das Boot (two better films). But here the viewer is treated to two great powerhouse actors going head to head, and it does not get much better than Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington.
The pair play Captain Frank Ramsay and Lieutenant Commander Ron Hunter , respectively, high ranking officers of the USS Alabama, a nuclear submarine send to monitor the rebels the activities of Chechen rebels who have taken control of a nuclear base, threatening to strike if American or Russian forces retaliate.
With strict orders to launch nuclear weapons in a pre-emptive strike if given the go ahead to do so, Ramsay and Hunter clash when a partially recovered emergency message is received. Ramsay believes it is an order to launch their weapons, but Hunter does not. This results in a mutiny which divides the crew as a potential nuclear war looms in the background.
Both Hackman and Washington provide the perfect counter balance to one another. Hackman, who excels at playing men playing men of authority, gives a fine performance. And Washington, an actor who often portrays men of great conviction and unwavering morals, is more than up to the challenge of playing against the veteran Oscar winner.
The rest of the cast are also very good, with special mention to George Dzundza, Viggo Mortenson and James Gandolfini.
Tony Scott's provides solid direction. He is a deft hand with these Bruckheimer/Simpson productions and provides the perfect vision for their big budget fodder. An un-credited script contribution by Quentin Tarantino provides much spark to an otherwise solid script, yet it is Hackman and Washington that make this film.