'Hunter Killer' review

As I have said in the past, water movies do not translate well to the silver screen. There was one exception a couple of years ago with “American Assassin,” an action-drama of 2017 that put Michael Keaton as one of the leads in a tale directed by Michael Cuesta.

And now there is another exception. “Hunter Killer” succeeds where other water-related tales have failed. The trouble with most H20-set tales is that there is no immediate threat that pulls viewers into the story.

Gerard Butler has become the action hero of late who studios go to for any variety of reasons; namely his looks, his ability to play the everyman and his uncanny knack to just tote a gun around and look natural doing it. A portion of the intrigue rests in the fact that Butler’s Captain Joe Glass needs to retrieve Russian commander Captain Andropov (Michael Nyvquist), who was taken as a bargaining chip by some corrupt Russians trying to stage a coup of their own government.

Andropov helps Glass and his team navigate the trenches below and avoid any of the bombs that are below the ocean floor floating away undetected. The trouble is, however, that despite all of the antics and explosions on the screen, this movie has a kind of low budget look and feel.

Gary Oldman plays a major supporting role in “Hunter Killer” as a high-ranking American diplomat. I think Oldman filmed this prior to his turn in last year’s Oscar-winning “Darkest Hour.”

It might have been beneath his wheelhouse, since this role was almost too close to the role he played as the main baddie nemesis in Wolfgang Petersen’s Oscar-nominated “Air Force One” in 1997.

Big time irony also rests in the leads here because each actor played some form of Count Dracula in the past 20-plus years.

Butler played the fang-toothed incarnation in “Dracula 2000,” a mid-budgeted release from 2000. Oldman played the character in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” in 1992. Each actor gave his own interpretation of the legend, who faces an untimely demise in the story.

Going back to “Hunter Killer,” this movie contains some genuine moments of suspense despite the doldrums that occasionally occur. This is a movie worthy of the big screen treatment, since director Donovan Marsh frames this tale that way.

And while the movie premiered last month, one of the stars was missing. Sadly, Michael Nyvqist died from lung cancer last year. He was a great Swedish actor who most recently was supported in “I.T.” with actor Pierce Brosnan in 2016.

Despite all the drawbacks that occur, “Hunter Killer” deserves a look for the adventure that ensues in this worthwhile time waster.

Grade: B-