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Phantom Movie Review

phantom-movie-poster-smIt can be very difficult living in a submarine. It is not for the claustrophobic to be in close quarters all the time. It is also not for those who cannot take pressure, as there is the threat of even the smallest leak flooding the submarine. In wartime, this can be especially stressful and dangerous for all of those involved. Phantom is a thriller that takes place in a submarine. It could have been an interesting film, but instead it is a flat, uninspired, and overall just not a satisfying film.

Phantom is set in the backdrop of the Cold War and it is about a Soviet Union submarine that contains a device known as ‘The Phantom.’ What this device does is it cloaks other radio signals so that the submarine cannot be seen or heard on radar. It stars Ed Harris as a past his prime Soviet naval commander, named Dimitri Marakov. “Dimi” as he is credited as, takes control of a sub as a last job. He is forced to leave his family, and meets a new member of his crew, Bruni, played by David Duchovny. It turns out Burni is there to sabotage the operation. He wants to start a huge war against the other superpowers, like China and the United States.

Phantom is boring, very boring. There are these long periods of nothing but exposition about the submarine and the fate of the Soviet Union or their enemies. The audience is never gets to know the characters. The script, written by the director Todd Robinson, is full of insipid dialogue. It is unfortunate that two solid actors like Ed Harris and David Duchovny had to read a lifeless script like this one.

After having aspects of a psychological thriller and having other aspects of a historical thriller/drama, the whole tone of Phantom shifts into a sort of Die Hard-esque film with David Duchovny holding the entire place hostage. It is very confusing having all kinds of genres thrown at the audience. It does not allow them to soak in the environment and the characters. With everything shifting from genre to genre, or characters all of a sudden gaining completely different personalities in seconds, it is very inconsistent and in no way entertaining.

This also may sound like a minor gripe, but when a film has characters from a particular country, is it so hard to ask the actors to have accents that are from those countries? It sounds silly and just bizarre hearing characters named “Dimitri Marakov” and talk about being Russian without Russian accents.

There are some nice visuals however. The shots of the ocean and the sub are nice to look at, and the audience can see what kind of danger a soldier can be in while in the middle of a war zone.

Phantom wants to say something interesting about the Cold War and also be entertaining, but with a slow build, uninteresting characters, and an overall sense of “why is this necessary?” Phantom is far from great. With a decent script, these actors could have pulled it off as something big and intelligent, but it feels like a very lame mini-series that would be on the History Channel.

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