With intense actors like Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman fighting for the helm of a submarine, Crimson Tide can't help but be an edge-of-your-seat exercise in military head-butting. As the actors' voices rise, so does the viewer's pulse, to the point that even though it can't really end with the world blowing up, it sure seems like it might. What's more interesting is that with each man believing absolutely in his authority and position, the fate of the world falls into the hands of the subordinates; they must either carry out or disobey the orders, with possible dire consequences awaiting either decision. Considering how nervous and confused they look, weighing the minutiae of the military code book against their personal loyalties, this is a frightening prospect indeed. The conflict between following orders, the most bedrock principle of the military, and "doing the right thing," is not new to the movies, having been covered in fascinating films ranging from Fail-Safe (1964) to War Games (1983). But Crimson Tide is also equal to the task, resulting in a heart-pounding drama that isn't diminished by the film's post-Cold War release. A veteran of these Jerry Bruckheimer actioners, director Tony Scott makes Crimson Tide one of the most satisfying of that cheeky category. Quentin Tarantino's contributions as script doctor seem limited to intrusive bursts of his trademark pop culture patter, which call attention to themselves at the expense of an otherwise efficient narrative.
by Derek Armstrong review