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
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.
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: 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: One early scene shows people at a party, including some women with low-cut tops.
Language: Occasional swearing includes one "f--k" and a few "s--t"s, plus "hell," "damn," "goddamn," etc.
Consumerism: Not an issue
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.
Fan Reviews provided by
Phantom-a Russian submarine story, by mister2tim
Although the movie is set as a dramatic naval submarine movie, in the early nuclear era, the interaction of the characters play a more significant and suspenseful part of the movie plot than in typical ?war movies?. In Duchovny?s portrayal as a bad guy he sheds his previous do-gooder characters and moves into the era of a honest to goodness villain. The revealing of the main plot well into the movie cements the ill feeling that creeps into the 1st half of the movie. If you are an Ed Harris follower you will love his work in this movie, it?s one of his best. The epilogue info at the end of the movie brought scary insight to life during the Cold War.
snoozola by abbypug
If you are llooking for action and thrills - this is not the film. It was slow, poorly acted, and I found my self falling asleep a few times during it. It would be ok for cable or DVD but not the $10.75 price I paid for the icket
Don't waste your time or money by gigie47
This movie is about soviet navy guys, played by american actors who speak english. There is not even a Russian symbol on their uniforms. It is poorly written, horribly directed and, with the exception of Ed Harris and a couple of others, badly acted. David Duchoveny is horrible. This is a terrible movie and I almost fell asleep. There's a little bit of action at the end, but that's it.
Phantom by 08bosoxfan
Bosoxfan: I enjoyed the movie and thought it was excellent. Read the book, "Red Star Rogue" and met the director, Todd Robinson at last night's screening. Very enlightening speaking with him and had an even better appreciation for the movie. I still think that "Crimson Tide" is the bar level for submarine movies.
Very Little Emotional Investment Here...A By-The-Numbers Formula. by Alon Patterson
I'm not sure what seems the least enthused in this film, its audience or the actor?s performances, but one thing's certain, this film could have been better, much better. They had the sets, talent, technicians, virtually everything necessary to make a really good film. But this one just doesn't work and as reluctant as I am to point fingers given the fine cast here, this performances came off as if this was an unrehearsed two day shoot with actors who didn't identify at all with either their characters or this screenplay, and absolutely hated one another personally. The only thing saving this movie from seeming amateurish is the investment the producers made in everything, apparently except casting. You might want to wait for the DVD or stream for this one. Likely, you'll be glad you did.
Ebert's review about says it all by deacondh
Not since "Contagion" has there been a movie with such a great cast that was this bad. Everybody in the movie is supposed to be Russian, but not only are they all speaking in English, they don't even have Russian accents. And it's supposedly "based on actual events", but they admit to you at the end of the film that they have no idea how much of it is actually true. Don't bother seeing this one. Stay home and rent U-571 instead.
Not bad ... by hschlanger
A pleasant diversion during the post-Oscar drought of new releases for adults. It's not going to be hailed as a classic, and we all know the outcome (since we're still here), but a decent couple of hours of entertainment.
I had wanted to see this movie mostly because David Duchovny is in it, but I'm also a fan of Ed Harris and love cold-war-submarine movies (I own K-19: The Widowmaker, Ice Station Zebra, On The Beach, Das Boot, and The Hunt for Red October and have seen a few more). So I figured that this would be a good movie no matter what, and it far exceeded my already-high expectations.
First, let me say that Ed Harris has the most screen time as the captain of the sub and he is as great an actor as ever. He goes from being the regal, respected captain to a troubled, beaten-down man over the course of the movie and yet his character's determination and spirit never waver. I enjoyed every moment of watching him no matter what the situation was.
Duchovny's turn as the bad guy is inspired casting. And yet he's not really the "bad guy" per se, more of a zealot who truly believes that what he's set out to do is right, much like the Operative in Serenity. He plays the role
Phantom.. Good Solid Soviet Era Film.
I just wish they would have spent more time getting the actors to actually seem more Russian. However, I understand why they didn't go with that route because of possible things lost in translation. However, I feel the lack of any accent, at least for me, was something that made it more confusing than necessary, because going in, you're not sure who's Russian and who's American. Then you find out that they're all Russian, which took you a while seeing as how they don't speak in Russian nor have any trace of accents aside from their American one. Beside that small malady, this movie with its solid cast was a gem if you don't mind sitting through the logistics. Amazing end to the film, too. Leaves some things shrouded in mystery, as they should be.
It Was So-So by cinema cowboy
Not one of Ed Harris's better movies but its not from him. An O.K. plot combined with so-so acting and maybe two or three shots of the submarines firing torpedos wrapped up in an hour and a half made me feel like staying at the theagtre and seeing another because I didn't get my fill. Also, I expected more from the previews so it was kind of a let down but if you like Ed Harris and submarines I'd go see it.