4
May
2020
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Kursk: The Last Mission

Kursk: The Last Mission

Charged with testing an experimental torpedo during a naval exercise, the crew of Kursk helm the most advanced submarine in the Russian fleet. However, when the torpedo explodes inside the submarine, it plunges captain-lieutenant Mikhail Averin (Matthias Schoenaerts) and his crew to the bottom of the Barents Sea, and help should not be far behind. Yet, on the surface, there are other different currents at play when Mother Russia would rather not acknowledge either the tragedy or help in their sailors’ recovery…

Like most submarine movies, 'Kursk: The Last Mission' is a tale of amputation...

Now, I have to say I have a confessed soft spot for submarine dramas. Whether it’s the black and white melodrama of John Mills in ‘We Dive at Dawn‘ or the primary luminescence of Denzel Washington screaming away at Gene Hackman in Tony Scott’s ‘Crimson Tide‘, there’s always plenty of tension to be found undersea. You can cite the cramped conditions, the cat mouse game of detection, but for me, every sub movie hinges on identification.

So, inevitably like many submarine movies before it, ‘Kursk’ wisely starts on land with a handful of scenes with its crew. A wedding party is underway and like in the opening scenes of ‘Das Boot‘, you’re immediately drawn to the mundanity of each of its characters, whereupon you see each for the human beings they are. This is Vidyaevo, the men’s’ home port where Mother Russia is a different kind of enemy – the one who deprives the men of their wages and feeds their families promises instead. So, when disaster finally does eventually strike, it cuts through both the crew and their sentences.

Moving the tension between the men trapped undersea and their families misled up above, ‘Kursk’ is a movie credited by its international cast. ‘Rust and Bone‘s’ Matthias Schoenaerts finds the right spot between captaincy and camaraderie as Mikhail and Colin Firth brings his starchy, British dependability to Commodore David Russell, who so desperately wants to intervene.

Like most submarine movies, ‘Kursk’ is a tale of amputation – how much can you live without before you stop being alive? Walking a line between fact and fictionalised exchanges, there’s an inherent risk for many based-upon-true-events movies here. Make it too dramatic and you lose credibility. Make it too factual and your audience will lose interest. Fortunately, when the film finally surfaces, it holds its course between both extremes and doesn’t descend into the depths of saccharine. 

Check it out on Amazon Prime now.

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