TITLECrimson Tide
DISTRIBUTORHollywood Pictures
RUNNING TIME116 minutes

This fictional film, set almost exclusively on a United States ballistic missile submarine, takes the viewer to the brink of a nuclear war. In the mid 1990s, Russia is facing a rebellion that includes large portions of its military. When those units gain access to nuclear missiles and threaten to launch them against the United States and Japan if loyal Russian forces attack them, the United States dispatches the USS Alabama to be the country’s only line of defense. After receiving word that the Russian rebels are fueling their missiles, the submarine is ordered to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the rebel nuclear base. Before it can launch its missiles, the submarine comes under attack from a rebel submarine and loses communications, just as a new message is coming in. The captain wants to launch without waiting to know what the new message says, but the executive officer refuses to confirm the order, and the plot becomes a battle for command of the submarine. The film prompts viewers to think about command and control issues of nuclear weapons and the dangers that can come with placing such weapons in the control of field commanders. It stars Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman.

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