Just got back from seeing this at a sneak at our local military theater, and wanted to post before going to bed. It's 1961 as the film begins, and the Russians are rushing through the completion of their flagship (and first nuclear ballistic) submarine, K-19. It was supposed to be the pride of the Soviet Fleet, but instead became a cursed boat. The current captain, played well by Liam Neeson, is demoted to executive officer to make room for a tough-as-nails replacement, the ever-reliable Harrison Ford. Both actors spend the film speaking with a pseudo-Russian accent, but it doesn't take long to get used to it. Anyway, the K-19 seems to be cursed. Ten men had died during its construction, including the ship's doctor in a bizarre truck accident. The government wants the sub at sea as a show of strength against the U.S., while at the same time not providing adequate support for its construction. At its launch, the bottle intended to christen the sub does not break, a bad omen in maritime lore. Once K-19 puts to sea, the crew is immediately put into drill mode by their new captain. He pushes the crew and the sub to their limits, taking the boat past its safety limits. More men are injured, but the captain soon earns a little crew devotion after the sub breaks through the Arctic ice and successfully fires its first test missile (a pretty cool sequence). The revelry does not last long, however, as a cooling pipe in the reactor, causing the core to overheat to dangerous levels. The decision is made that another way needs to be found to cool down the core. The only way means that several men will have to voluntarily expose themselves to high amounts of intensive radiation. And this is where the movie REALLY starts. Like "We Were Soldiers", "K-19" is less about duty to flag and country as it is doing what you have to do for the guy next to you. As a long-time member of the military, I can appreciate that. Although this incident actually happened on board a Russian sub, I can imagine the reactions and decisions being the same were it to happen on an American vessel. This movie brought to mind other military-oriented films of the past few years. You have the claustrophobic environment of "Das Boot", and certain relational dynamics seem like they were right out of "Crimson Tide," although "K-19" had distinctly different resolution between the CO and XO of the sub. There is little humor in this telling of this tale, however. It's a very straight forward recount of a potentially explosive episode (no pun intended). I really never knew anything about the incident, and don't know how accurate the story is, but it's definitely a tale well told. Hats off to Harrison, Liam and Kathryn Bigelow, the director. Also, I think it's the first time I've ever seen a movie co-produced by National Geographic! I'm afraid "K-19: The Widowmaker" is going to get lost in this summer of big-budget spectacles and low-brow comedies, but it's a film that will be appreciated by history and military buffs.