Hunter Killer: The Blue Russian Cocktail Recipe

Release year:  2018 
Director:  Donavan Marsh
Starring: Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Common, Michael Nyqvist
(R, 120 min.)
Action and adventure, Drama, Mystery & Suspense


TMC Turner: “You will be court-martialed!”
Capt. Joe Glass: “Then it's my job to keep you alive long enough so you can testify.”

How can you not love a submarine film? And Gerard Butler does some of his best work here as the taciturn newly recruited captain taxed with a nearly impossible mission. Besides, Hunter Killer has been banned in Russia. Do you need any other motivation to see it?

Well, here is some from a fellow critic:

Law dictates that any worthwhile submarine film has got to have scenes showing the following three things: (1) the captain yelling “dive dive dive!” as the sub dives dives dives; (2) tense scenes where the crew are fearfully silent, waiting to see if they’re going to get hit by a torpedo or a depth charge or a sea mine; and (3) sailors in a stricken sub up to their knees in sea water as it sprays onto them from leaks that are exactly the height of a shower head.

Those and many other wonderful submarine-movie clichés are featured in Hunter Killer, an extremely entertaining, cookie-cut action thriller that falls straight in line with Crimson Tide, K-19: The Widowmaker and The Hunt for Red October. –Jim Schembri,3#AW

Of course, Hunter Killer has been panned by the mostly effete critics at Rotten Tomatoes – I am almost to the point of only seeing films they pan and resisting any they praise.  Their 36% rating contrasts markedly with actual moviegoers who mostly loved it (84% positive).

Here is some of their twaddle:

Much like the submarine in its story, Hunter Killer cruises the murky action depths, following a perfunctory course into territory that's been charted many times before.  –Critics’ Consensus (Or Critics Consensus as they write it without the requisite plural possessive apostrophe.  I mean, if they slaughter English usage standards with such abandon, how can you trust their film reviews?)

The Tom Clancy-Lite plot is disposable and dated... and the action, when it does arrive, is quiet enough to send the most insomnia-plagued of audiences to sleep. – Barry Hertz, Globe and Mail

Damning it with faint praise:

Hunter may be worth tracking down for undersea adventure fans looking for a little bit of dumb fun.  JimmyO, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

Audiences, however, had other things to say:

After reading the critic reviews and the audience reviews of “Hunter Killer,” I am certain critics hate everything about the US, US military might and US patriotism. I saw the disparity between critics (29%) and audience reviews (88%) and decided I would see for myself. I am happy I did! There was nothing wrong with this movie. It was almost as good as one of my favorites, “The Hunt for Red October.”. The plot was great. The acting was great. The special effects were great. An actual submariner loved it! –Chris R

Where do they get these Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critics from? Sometimes mindless entertainment not wrapped in a perfectly shiny box is just what the doctor ordered. Good movie worth the ticket price. –Dominic O

The heck with the critics. This is a great action adventure movie, which was partially shot on a real U.S. sub. The U.S. Department of Defense gave the director two days aboard a nuclear sub to shoot scenes with actual submariners. –Bruce B

IGNORE the critic's reviews. Rotten Tomatoes is becoming a mockery because the critics’ reviews are so bad. In fact, believe the opposite of what they say. This movie is great. Yes, it isn't an original concept, but it is well done and action packed. –Chris R


Yes, indeed! One man’s cliché is another man’s classic.  My husband loves submarine films, and this one did not disappoint.

There is something about the claustrophobic quarters, the need for silence, and the extreme hostility of the surrounding environment that sets these films apart. The setting is almost a character itself, establishing a subliminal angst even before the action begins, much like the crumbling castles in Gothic novels.

Submariners are a different breed, and that is apparent in the mutual respect opposing captains have for each other.

Then factor in the time factor, where waiting for imminent death is a must in order to turn at the last moment to avoid a torpedo speeding toward you.

And we love the cat and mouse games the captains play, kind of like underwater chess. Maybe that’s one reason Different Drummer always loved the original Star Trek under Captain James T. Kirk.  In fact, the fourteenth episode of season one, “Balance of Power,” aired on December 15, 1966, is a science-fiction version of the fine 1957 submarine film, The Enemy Below.

In the final scene of that Star Trek episode, the Romulan commander expresses regret that he and Kirk are on opposite sides, saying, "You and I are of a kind. In a different reality, I could have called you friend." 

In Hunter Killer Gerard Butler crafts his own niche as a submarine captain without the requisite Annapolis degree. He has worked almost all the stations on subs himself, he tells the young crew in his opening remarks. “And I can probably perform each of those jobs better than each of you,” he goes on, establishing his everyman bonafides and his alpha attitude, perhaps much better credentials than a degree from the Untied States Naval Academy.

While Gary Oldman, unrecognizable in his Oscar winning role as Winston Churchill in last year’s Darkest Hour, here looks more like the svelte George Smiley of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, whom author John le Carré described as “one of London’s meek who do not inherit the earth.”  However, as the hawkish Admiral Charles Donnegan, Oldman “chews the scenery” in this film, showing his range as one of the best actors of our time.

Another great performance, and sadly his last, comes from Michael Nyquist as Russian Captain Sergei Andropov, rescued by the Americans from a submarine his own country has sabotaged.  Yet he is still considered a huge risk to the Americans and treated as a prisoner.  His grizzled face reflects an ironic understanding of his position, and his reluctant assistance to help the Americans is wrung out of him drop by drop. Arrogance and pride offset by integrity and expertise round out his character, his face etched in pain, perhaps because of the lung cancer that ended his life in June of last year at age 56.

Don’t listen to the critics on this one.  They are wrong again as usual. See it in theaters to chase away the November blues. A real treat for submarine movie fans and just about everybody else, too.

–Kathy Borich
3 1/2 Drums


Film-Loving Foodie

Regular readers probably already know different Drummer’s affinity for blue cocktails. Well, given that we are under the great blue sea here, why not a new thing, the Blue Russian Cocktail.  I’ll let take it away…

So you’ve got your White Russians and your Black Russians , but have you heard of a Blue Russian? This cocktail is definitely one of the lesser known Russians. It uses Blue Curacao as its liqueur. That gives it an orange flavor – with the cream, it becomes a little like a Dreamsicle in a glass.

The Blue Russian is a good conversation-starter, since most people have never heard of it, and blue drinks always fascinate people. Like the Blue Long Island, it’s a clever riff on a familiar drink – just turning it blue, and adding orange flavor.

Like the White Russian, this drink kinda sorta layers all on its own. The trick to it is to pour slowly. No need for back of the spoon or any of that – just pour the vodka and cream as slowly as you can over the ice and the natural buoyancy of the cream will take care of the rest of it.

This is an easy drink to pair with foods because it’s really just a mild orange cream flavor. It goes wonderfully with Plank Salmon . But you can also pair it with something like a teriyaki dish, or even a burger and fries. It’s not a fussy drink.

Because it looks so spectacular and pours easily, this is a great drink for entertaining. People watching you pour it will think you’re an old pro at the bar.

Blue Russian Cocktail

Blue Russian Cocktail.jpg

How to Layer a Cocktail – easy!

2 ounces vodka

2 ounces Blue Curacao

1 ounce light cream (or single cream)

Put two or three crushed cubes of ice into a martini glass. Pour the blue curacao in over the ice, followed by the vodka, and top it all off with the cream.