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Hunter Killer

When mankind stands forlornly on the brink of annihilation, Paisley-born action hero Gerard Butler proudly steps forward to shepherd every man, woman and child back from the abyss. Whether it is terrorists running amok inside the White House (Olympus Has Fallen), malfunctioning satellites which control the world's weather patterns (Geostorm) or a deadly assassination on home soil (London Has Fallen), Butler is our growling, chiselled-jawed saviour. In the underwater thriller Hunter Killer, a rogue Russian Admiral prepares to push the button on a third world war and Butler sails to our rescue as a renegade submarine captain, who repeatedly risks a court martial to perform outlandish manoeuvres hundreds of feet beneath the waves. Director Donovan Marsh generates tension from the claustrophobic confines of a heavily armed submarine and sporadically unleashes hell in propulsive action sequences. His most reliable special effect is Butler, a strutting hunk of patriotism and self-assurance, who has mastered a defiant stare as he delivers inspirational speeches to a terrified crew. When all hope is lost, Butler serves. A shootout beneath the ice of the Barents Sea close to Russia immobilises the USS Tampa Bay. Admiral Charles Donnegan (Gary Oldman), Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, sanctions a mission to discover the fate of the missing submarine. With guidance from Rear Admiral John Fisk (Common), Donnegan appoints Commander Joe Glass (Butler) as captain of the USS Arkansas, which is docked at Fastlane in Scotland. The crew, including jittery Execution Officer Brian Edwards (Carter MacIntyre), prepares to sail into hostile waters patrolled by Russian warships. As the USS Arkansas reaches the last known location of the missing submarine, covert surveillance overseen by National Security Agency analyst Jayne Norquist (Linda Cardellini) reveals the Russian Minister of Defence, Dmitri Durov (Mikhail Gorevoy), has staged a coup and is holding President Zakarin (Alexander Diachenko) hostage at Polyarny Naval Base. Durov is preparing to engage the American fleet. Warmonger Donnegan recommends swift military countermeasures. "When somebody makes a move on a chessboard, you respond!" he counsels the US President (Caroline Goodall). However, Norquist and Fisk propose a more radical intervention: Commander Glass and his crew should rescue the Russian president with the help of Navy SEALs on the ground led by Bill Beaman (Toby Stephens). Based on the novel Firing Point by Don Keith and George Wallace, Hunter Killer is entertaining hogwash. Director Marsh charts a familiar course through breathless action sequences and threats of mutiny. Butler is steadfast as chaos unfolds around him and Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist makes one of his final appearances before his death from lung cancer as a stoic Russian submarine captain, who collaborates with the Americans to neutralise Durov. Arne Schmidt and Jamie Moss's script torpedoes subtlety and springs a few plot holes but largely keeps its head above water for two undemanding hours.