The movie that launched the Jack Ryan franchise (played by Alec Baldwin here, later by Harrison Ford and, foolishly, Ben Affleck), Red October marks one of Cold War cinema’s last gasps. As Ryan, a low-level CIA analyst, Baldwin offers one of Hollywood’s most nerdy and frightened (and therefore realistic) intelligence officers. Ostensibly set in the mid-1980’s, the film arrived less than a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall and posits the idea of Soviets who maybe aren’t all that bad. All Sam Neill’s Capt. Vasili Borodin wants, for example, is to live in Montana with a round woman who will cook rabbits for him, a description that sounds remarkably like our idea of what Soviet Russia was like.
With Sean Connery delivering one of the most blatant “I’m not even trying” Russian accents in movie history and James Earle Jones as a good-natured agency bigwig, Red October is endlessly re-watchable. If you have basic cable, you’ve probably seen it at least half a dozen times in the past few years.
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