K-19: The Widowmaker [Blu-Ray] Kathryn Bigelow

K-19: The Widowmaker [Blu-Ray] Kathryn Bigelow
Kathryn Bigelow has always made movies about the perils of male systemic thinking. How their rigidity, solipsism, pride and honour, in conjunction with their addiction to pressure and risk, implicitly cause conflict and repression. What's most impressive is that she typically does this with scripts initially written by men, giving it that added authenticity. When not flipping gender roles in an effort to help males understand the heightened anxiety that passive objectivity creates (Near Dark), she acknowledges the hypocrisy of simultaneously exploiting female sexuality as a dehumanizing experience while punishing women for acknowledging their desires (Strange Days, Weight of Water). And while she's always been a respected director, K-19 and The Hurt Locker are the titles that have garnered the most commercial acclaim. These latter films remove women from the mix entirely to reveal male cycles of destruction on a global scale, suggesting that adherence to institution and rightness is paramount, even in the face of unreasonable risk and adverse logic. K-19 tells a true story, hidden from the world for decades, of a Russian nuclear submarine rushed into the waters of the Cold War to counter existing U.S. subs. From the get go there are warning signs not to take K-19 out into American waters, or press their luck, with accidental deaths compounding issues and inexperienced, last minute replacements stepping in, but intuition is something that defies the logic of their constructed system and the honour of defence and conflict. One of these replacements is Captain Vostrikov (Harrison Ford), an unwavering patriot considerably less amiable than the man he replaces, Captain Polenin (Liam Neeson), whose inability to get the boat operational in time leaves him second in command. Under the guise of emergency preparedness, Vostrikov regularly takes unnecessary risks with the boat and his crew, which isn't a huge problem until they discover a leaking nuclear reactor. Despite a thematic understanding of ego as arbitrary roadblock, Bigelow doesn't patronize these men, presenting their decisions and rationale with a matter-of-fact disposition, which are then juxtaposed with frequently disastrous results. It all makes for an active viewing experience, and as an action thriller and claustrophobic horror, it delivers propulsive, compelling tension with intelligence, even if some of the Russian accents are dreadful. Included with the Blu-Ray are all of the features that were available with the DVD, such as the dry, information-based commentary with Bigelow and cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, and the mini-supplements on make-up, the ice emergence scene and attention to detail. A brief "Making of" is also available. (Paramount)