Movie Review: 'Phantom' (2013)

Expertly acted by an impressive ensemble, the grim material is elevated to the next level. Set in the claustrophobic scenery of a submarine circa The Cold War, “Phantom” tells the story of a Soviet naval team tasked with an apparent suicide mission. As the battle lines are drawn between two ideologies, the fate of the entire world could be altered forever.

Given that this is a historical film some of the possible tension as a thriller is lost, as the results are obvious going in. Stuck inside the narrow passageways of a submarine it is easy to lose sight of that fact given the film’s engrossing nature.

Director Todd Robinson effectively draws viewers into the psychological warfare between Demi (Ed Harris), a captain traumatized by a dark past and the suspicious KGB agent, Bruni (David Duchovny).

The dynamic between the crew, including the camaraderie and the fealty they share is interesting to see play out. There’s a lurking suspicion that hangs over each character’s countenance, a sensation that the whole picture hasn’t been brought into focus quite yet. While “U-571” provided an explosive look at leadership, “Phantom” sinks into the abyss of the philosophical need to do the right thing.

Ed Harris and William Fichtner both give expert performances that convey the brewing tension and a sense of foreboding dread that comprises "Phantom." While, David Duchovny brings his charismatic, and ominous characterization to the precarious circumstances.

As involving as the film is there is something that continually nags at it. Despite the cast portraying Soviets, none of them brandish an accent. Instead, they stay true to their native brogue, leading to great confusion. Despite the set pieces and names making it clear that the film is portraying Russian characters, it gets lost with the use of all-American accents.

The purpose of not portraying the Russian accent with such flagrance is curious and I have yet to understand its meaning or purpose. Looking past that issue, "Phantom" offers an unsettling look at the wars within and the strain that being a leader in wartime can take on a person.

There is an intense character study boiling in its intensity. A tad restrained on emotion and with a setting that feels reminiscent of a stage production, "Phantom" garners the script every crucial analysis it could possibly receive. Rating: 6.7/10


  1. I am not sure if I would ever watch the movie, but great review!


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