Friday, April 11, 2008

Hostile Approach

Before being hurled boggle-eyed and screaming into an edit that won’t take too big a wet bite out of my weekend, I just wanted to point out that tomorrow afternoon BBC2 is showing Hostile Waters. First broadcast in 1996, the BBC-HBO co-production is based on an unconfirmed incident just prior to Reagan and Gorbachev’s historic 1986 Reykjavik summit in which K-219, a Russian Yankee-Class submarine, collided with an American Los Angeles-Class Hunter Killer submarine, believed to be the USS Augusta, while on patrol northeast of Bermuda.

Of course that kind of direct contact didn’t turn out too well for the older Russian sub. An explosion in one of the missile tubes leads to seawater leaking in. That starts a corrosive chain reaction that could cook the nuclear payloads of the ballistic missiles and lead to a pretty severe nuclear catastrophe.

Written by Troy Kennedy Martin and directed by David Drury, Hostile Waters stars Rutger Hauer as the Russian Captain Britanov and Martin Sheen as the skipper of the US submarine who erroneously sees the Russian plan to avert disaster as a ploy to launching their SLBMs. In one of his first acting roles, Lost’s Dominic Monaghan appears as a Russian submariner in a cast that also features Max von Sydow and Angel’s Alexis Denisof.

TKM may have taken some dramatic license with the facts of an event that the United States Navy still categorically denies happening, but in the sweaty confines of the stricken boat he ratchets up the tension in a script that Drury perfectly realizes. Anyway, try and catch it if you can. Hostile Waters is on BBC2 from 5:30pm.


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