K19 - THE WIDOWMAKER
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In the opening credits we learn that it is 1961, the height of the Cold War and the Soviet Union has the power to destroy the world 2 times and the US can do it 10 times. Still, they both keep making more weapons.
The Soviets are about to unveil their new pride and joy, the K19 nuclear sub. It is the new flagship of their naval fleet.
The movie begins as we see Liam Neeson (Capt. Polenin), Captain of the K19 and in a tense filled scene, they are about to fire off one of their missiles. Things go wrong and they can't complete the firing. Neeson is pissed and we suddenly realize that this was just a drill. There are still 2 weeks to go before it is launched but the ship is filled with little problems such as this. In fact, 10 people have already died in the building of the ship and it is secretly dubbed "The Widowmaker."
When the government wants to know who is responsible for this latest failure, Liam is still pissed and blames the manufacturer of the electrical components. Still wanting names, a frustrated Neeson says to use his own name.
Next thing you know, Neeson is replaced as the head of the ship by Harrison Ford (Capt. Vostrikov). Neeson is now the 2nd in command.
Ford's leadership is completely different than Neeson. While Neeson leads by example and considers everyone part of a big family, Harrison is a tough disciplinarian who won't accept failure.
While touring the ship for the first time, he finds the nuclear reactor officer drunk and kicks him off the ship, only to be replaced by Peter Sarsgaard (Vadim Radtchenko) who is fresh out of the naval academy. Harrison trusts him figuring the government knows what they're doing.
It's finally time for the ship to be christened and when the bottle of champagne doesn't break, the crew know for sure now that this ship is indeed cursed by bad luck.
Harrison makes a moving speech and the ship and crew set out for sea.
Right away Harrison starts demanding drills. That's all they seem to be doing for the first 45 minutes or so of the movie. At one point he sends the ship down to 300 meters which is the crushing point of the ship.
Everyone's sweating and Neeson is furious with Harrison for putting the crews life in danger.
Finally they head back up, breaking through the ice and begin another test. The same test they tried in the beginning of the film. This time it goes off without a hitch and the missile is launched perfectly. Harrison is real proud of his crew. (Neeson and a few other officers are still pissed) The government officials who found out about the launch send Harrison a congratulatory message and give him orders to go out on a real mission now.
They are ordered to head to a point about 400 miles off of the eastern coast of the United States.
On the way there, disaster happens. One of the nuclear reactor develops a leak of some kind and the temperature is climbing like crazy. If it hits 1000 degrees it will explode, causing an explosion greater than Hiroshima.
They come up with a plan to use the ships water supply to cool it down. They make a plumbing system using many of the ships unnecessary pipes and are ready to install it. Harrison orders 3 sets of 2 to go in and install the pipe, each one working a maximum of 10 minutes to keep the radiation exposure to a minimum. They don't have any radioactive protective clothing. Two at a time they go in to work on the reactor. Two at a time they come out, vomiting and looking like they are badly sunburned. When it's time for the Academy graduate (Sarsgaard) he just sits in the corner and cries. He is replaced by another guy and the cooling system is completed. The temperature had reached 975 degrees but now is back to normal.
The radiation has entered the entire ship now and Neeson tells Harrison of an nearby island run by NATO and wants Harrison to go there so his men can get off the ship, away from the radiation.
Harrison demands that the ship instead head back to the Soviet Union for repairs. Neeson says that at the slow pace they are going, it will become a ghost ship.
A U.S. ship comes by and offers assistance but Harrison refuses.
On the way back home, the makeshift cooling system develops a leak and at the same time, a fire develops. Neeson leaves to help with the fire, the Naval academy officer decides to be a hero and goes into the reactor. Meanwhile, two of Neeson's top officers pull a gun on Harrison, telling him he is relieved of his duties and that Neeson is back in charge.
The fire is put out and when Neeson returns to the helm (or whatever it's called on a sub) he finds Harrison handcuffed to a pipe and his two officers proudly holding a gun on their former captain.
Neeson thanks them for what they've done and takes the keys to the handcuffs and the gun from them. He then holds the gun on them and orders they both be arrested. He then releases Harrison.
Harrison orders the ship to submerge and goes to check on the reactor. When he gets there he discovers that Sarsgaard had been inside the reator for 18 minutes. Harrison goes in and pulls him out. Sarsgaard fixed the cooling system but is in pretty bad shape. Harrison thanks him for what he's done, telling him he's a hero.
Back in the control room, Harrison surprises everyone by ordering the ship to surface and to radio the US ship for help. He explains that earlier he just wanted to get away for the US ship because if the K19 blew up, it would also destroy the U.S. ship which would lead to WW3.
Harrison puts on his dress uniform and tells Neeson to let him know when the last crewman is off the ship. Looks like he is going to go down with the ship.
Suddenly, the radio man reports that a Soviet Sub has found them so they don't need the U.S.'s help after all.
The crew boards the Soviet sub and head back to the Soviet Union.
Harrison is accused of attempting to defect his crew and ship and goes on trial. Neeson gives a passionate speech about what it means to be a captain and tells the court what a great leader Harrison is. He is acquitted of all charges but never commands another ship. He and the crew are sworn to secrecy regarding what happened onboard the K19. It's not until the fall of the Soviet Union that it can be revealed.
28 years later Neeson meets Harrison at a cemetery. The surviving crew are all there at a gravesite for the 7 men that died just a few days after saving the reactor.
Harrison tells them all that he tried to get them official hero status but the government refused since they were never in a war.
The film ends and we learn that along with the 7 that died right away, 20 others died later from the radiation.
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