Watch It

On DVD: Now | On Blu-ray: Now

Phantom Review Critics


Dave White Profile

A race to the bottom. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 30

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Frank Scheck

    Despite the world-changing ramifications inherent to the plot, the results are more tedious than thrilling.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times

    Ed Harris in Phantom is like Steve Carlton with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1972 — delivering a wall-to-wall, amazing performance that's lost in a sea of dreadfulness.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    The combination of tight close-ups and jarring camera work might require a dose of Dramamine. Better yet, give this movie a wide berth and check out a superb film set in a submarine, the 1981 classic "Das Boot."

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    Robinson is undone partly by his own workmanlike touch as a writer, and partly by matters of casting. I like Harris, and he's quite moving here, but every time Duchovny reappears the overall energy level sinks to crush depth.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Much of what's contained in Phantom is at best speculative and at worst completely made-up. But, regardless of the accuracy, it makes for compelling viewing. Phantom is one of the best films of a lousy early 2013 release roster.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Phantom reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 15+

Taut, tense submarine drama is entertaining despite cliches.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Phantom is a taut submarine drama, supposedly based on actual events, about a Russian sub that may have come close to triggering a nuclear war at the height of the Cold War. Ed Harris stars as the captain, and David Duchovny is a KGB agent with a hidden agenda. Expect several intense fight scenes, including shootouts in the tight confines of the sub and strategic underwater combat as the captain is hunted by other subs. Weapons include guns and knives; characters are killed with both, some bloodily (there's one suicide via gunshot, shown from a distance). There's also moderate drinking and some swearing (including "f--k" and "s--t").

  • Families can talk about Phantom's violence. Is it necessary to the story? Does it seem realistic? How does it compare to more over-the-top scenes in larger-scale action movies? Which has greater impact?
  • How does Phantom compare to other well-known submarine films? What are the common cliches to be found in the genre, and how many can you spot here?
  • Why do you think David Duchovny's character is so convinced that the United States wants to start a war? Does he really want nuclear war?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: The main take away is that Cold War politics can be pretty ugly, especially when viewed from the perspective of suspicion -- i.e. assuming that the only thing preventing the other side from launching their missiles is fear of retaliation. It's not a view that permits people to believe in others' innate goodness, and it ultimately leads to a dark and skewed idea of the world.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Demi is willing to fight for his principles, especially when it might mean the difference between peace and nuclear war. It's not a decision he makes easily, but once he's set on a path, he's willing to battle to the death, if necessary.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Several stand-offs as armed men take over a submarine and threaten its captain. As the crew tries to retake the vessel, there are some close-range shootouts and fistfights. A throat is cut; significant blood. Suicide by gunshot; other characters are killed with guns as well. Threats with guns and knives. Plenty of talk about the politics of initiating a nuclear war, and some intense undersea combat sequences, with torpedoes firing/detonating, collisions, and more.

  • sex false0

    Sex: One early scene shows people at a party, including some women with low-cut tops.

  • language false3

    Language: Occasional swearing includes one "f--k" and a few "s--t"s, plus "hell," "damn," "goddamn," etc.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Several characters drink heavily at a party on shore. Once at sea, people have a few drinks with dinner or while relaxing, but they stay pretty sober.