BLU-RAY REVIEW: HUNTER KILLER 4K ULTRA HD
I suspect Olympus Has Fallen, and London Has Fallen are guilty pleasures for more than a few home theatre aficionados.
Both are packed with demo-worthy audio and are more than a little reminiscent of some of the great 80’s action flicks. Either is the sort of movie you could proudly invite your mates over to watch and show off your home theatre system.
Three years since London Has Fallen hit the home screen the producers are back at it again with their latest entry Hunter Killer.
Like other entries in the franchise, Hunter Killer is somewhat reminiscent of some of the great action thrillers, in this case, early action/thrillers of the ’90s, particularly Hunt for Red October and Crimson Tide.
Olympus Has Fallen, or London Has Fallen were not the most plausible of films, nor are they going to become classics in terms of storytelling. Both, however, are highly entertaining!
Like Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen, Hunter Killer is entertaining, but unlike its predecessors, it falls solidly into the realm of mediocrity.
What, however, is frustrating about Hunter Killer is that it could have been so much more. It has an exciting premise, and all the right ingredients are there, but it just can’t seem to get its act together.
After losing communication with the Hunter Killer class sub-Tampa Bay in Russian waters, the US submarine Arkansas is sent to investigate. Helmed by captain Joe Glass (Gerard Butler), the Arkansas discovers the Tampa Bay laying on the ocean floor with a torpedo hole in its side.
After a confrontation with a Russian submarine- ending with the destruction of the Russian sub-the crew of the Arkansas questions whether they have just started a war, or if they have sailed into one.
At the Pentagon, US defence chiefs are receiving intelligence of one of the most prominent Russian military build ups in history. Along with the news that the Tampa Bay has been destroyed, and the Arkansas fired upon, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Charles Donnegan (Gary Oldman) recommends the President (Caroline Goodall) move the US Northern Fleet to a war footing as they prepare to face the Russian fleet.
National Security Agency senior analyst Jayne Norquist (Linda Cardellini) however, believes all is not as it seems and with the approval of the President, sends a team of covert Navy Seals onto Russian soil to gather intel.
The team discover that Russian Defence Minister Dmitriy Durov (Mikhail Gorevoy) is staging a coup. The Navy Seals and Arkansas work together to rescue the Russian President Nikolai Zakarin (Alexander Diachenko) who is being held by Durov so that he can get word to his military advisors and avert a war.
Hunter Killer has all the right ingredients and cast to make a great movie. However, there are more than a few things that let the film down, and ironically a big part of that is the cast.
The movie starts with captain Joe Glass on leave and in the middle of a hunting trip, before being picked up by helicopter to be taken to the Arkansas.
Not only is it hard to take anybody with a name like Joe Glass seriously, personally speaking, but it’s also hard to relate to a man who hunts deer.
The film tries to convey Glass’ compassion when after the rest of the deer’s family stroll into view, he decides not to kill the animal. Try as I might, I just couldn’t relate to, nor for that matter, like a character whose idea of a fun ‘vaycay’ is to murder unsuspecting animals with a bow and arrow.
Fortunately, things do get better- aside from the odd corny line.
Gerard Butler and for that matter, Gary Oldman certainly didn’t bring their A- game to Hunter Killer. Michael Nyqvist is the exception here, giving grizzled Russian sea-captain Captain Andropov an air of credibility as he struggles with saving his President but potentially also betraying his countrymen.
Like many a modern action flick or those from days of yore (good, bad or otherwise), the film contains enough plot holes to sieve spaghetti. While most are forgivable, it would be nice to know why Defence Minister Dimitry Durov wants to stage a coup.
Films like Hunter Killer are pure pop-corn fest, and if judged purely on entertainment value alone, it succeeds… but only just.
If you’re familiar with Olympus Has Fallen, and London Has Fallen, you can expect much of the same, just not quite as good. If you’re happy to go into the film knowing that or are looking for movies that look and sound great in your home theatre, you’re in luck.
Filmed in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, Hunter Killer comes with a video transfer that is near reference.
The overall colour tone of the film is mostly neutral, only occasionally having a slight blue tint. Interior shots in the Arkansas and Pentagon are often bathed in warm tones from the room's lighting. Colour reproduction is excellent with objects and flesh tones looking both accurate and natural.
Images often convey an excellent sense of dimensionality with plenty of objects clearly visible in both the fore and background of Arkansas’ cramped confines. This is helped in no small part by the transfer's excellent black levels.
Resolution can be a little mixed. For the most part, most shots appear razor sharp and are loaded with detail. Those who don’t like film grain in 4K video will be pleased by both its absence in the film’s sharp transfer.
As most of the film takes place underwater, HDR usage is mostly confined to explosions, but it also shows itself in less frequent outdoor shots in both the clouds and sunlight.
While a superb transfer, some banding was noted, but it was confined to underwater scenes, which is a torture test even for 10-bit transfer.
Hunter Killer’s excellent video transfer is complemented perfectly by a potent Dolby Atmos (Dolby True HD 7.1) soundtrack.
Making full use of all of the speakers at its disposal, the Atmos soundtrack created a broad soundstage in my 5.2.2 home theatre that was both enveloping and immersive.
The height channels were used extensively during the movie’s two hour run time and along with its excellent dynamics, created an engaging home theatre experience.
Hunter Killer’s soundtrack may not offer the last word in dynamics, but it comes pretty close. My dual gravitas subwoofers were used to great effect to support the dynamics, particularly as the Arkansas tries to navigate tight underwater passages or outmaneuver torpedoes; the battle with the Russian submarine at the 23-minute mark of the film is an excellent demonstration.
Directionality was also excellent, with torpedoes often whizzing from the front to back of my home theatre room with precision.
Like the video transfer, the soundtrack is both detailed and nuanced, capturing quieter moments such as the gentle lapping of waves and other environmental cues.
Despite the often bombastic mix, dialogue, which was often accented remained clear and intelligible throughout the film.
PICTURE QUALITY -
SOUND QUALITY -
MOVIE RATING -
- Review Format: 4K ULTRA HD
- Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
- Audio: Dolby Atmos
- Genre: Action/Thriller
- Available Formats: DVD, Bluray, 4K ULTRAHD
- Run Time: 121 Minutes
- Rating: MA 15+
- Label: Roadshow
- Director: Donovan Marsh
- Release Date: Available Now
- Sony VPL-VW270ES 4K Projector
- Panasonic UB9000 4K Blu-ray player
- Denon AVC-X8500H AV Receiver
- VAF i91 front and centre speakers
- VAF i90 rear speakers
- Sonique in-ceiling speakers
- (5.2.2 speaker configuration).
As the owner of Adelaide based ‘Clarity Audio & Video Calibration’, Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator. Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.
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