MALLORY: so I saw for the first time in my life the greatest movie ever made by human hands this week at your house
a movie that i thought was about what a good idea it is to blow up nuclear submarines
but was in fact about what a good idea it is to NOT blow up nuclear submarines
NICOLE: I didn’t want to put a lot of pressure on you, but if you hadn’t loved it, it would have impacted our friendship.
I honestly believe it to be the greatest action thriller of the 1990s, which was already the best decade for action thrillers
I mean, this is a movie where Tim Curry plays the world’s most earnest Soviet. I get choked up when he tells Connery that he’ll get the Order of Lenin for his sacrifice, even though I know Connery is defecting and just pretending to scuttle the sub
MALLORY: Oh my God, I spent the WHOLE MOVIE worrying that Tim Curry was going to find out that Sean Connery was betraying the Motherland, because I didn’t think I could handle the look of confusion and loss on his weird, adoring face. And he doesn’t! He gets to keep ALL HIS ILLUSIONS, which most movies (AND ALSO LIFE) do not allow weird adoring people to do.
So I was grateful for that
I also loved how much of this movie (a good 40%, I think) was just Alec Baldwin slowly and triumphantly realizing something (“Son of a BITCH!” “Wait a minute – what date is it today?” “HE’S GOING TO TURN TO STARBOARD”) while doing really excellent prop work, always flinging down coffee cups or slamming the sides of helicopters in joyful realization
you and I both, PERHAPS MALADAPTIVELY, respond very very strongly to a specific kind of male authority, and this movie produces that specific kind of male authority in spades
not most male authority, we are like very specific whales that only respond to male authority on a certain gentle frequency
NICOLE: Oh, 100% agreement on this point! I think I googled “how to join CIA failing that how to join Soviet-era military” right after “Alec Baldwin peak beauty 1990.” And I do not like the CIA or the Soviet Union OR Alec Baldwin at all!
MALLORY: RIGHT!!! but something about watching Sean Connery repeatedly sip tea out of a tiny glass cup while saying “No” to a bunch of other dudes and refusing to explain himself made me want to join the Soviet Navy and dedicate the rest of my existence to making his life SLIGHTLY easier
NICOLE: I am so profoundly a joiner at heart and this movie taps deeply into that aspect of my identity.
Let’s briefly cover that literally everyone is in this movie!
Courtney B Vance, Stellan Skarsgård, Sam Neill, Gates McFadden, James Earl Jones Fred Thompson, Scott Glenn, NILES FROM THE NANNY
We struggled to accept that Niles was Niles because it just seemed wrong, even when IMDB and Wikipedia double-confirmed.
MALLORY: I HAD SUCH A HARD TIME ACCEPTING THAT TRUTH, NICOLE
you said over and over, “That’s Niles. That’s Niles from The Nanny.”
and I was willing to sing the theme song in its entirety
but I was not willing to let that truth into my heart.
He was HOT??
maybe it was just ambient Baldwin splashback but NILES THE BUTLER FROM THE NANNY COULD GET IT FROM ME IN THIS SUBMARINE MOVIE
I think it’s very TELLING that the line your independent-minded husband Steve quotes most often from this movie is “One ping only, Vasily” and the line you and I quote most often is “You will receive the order of Lenin for this” after wistfully touching one another on the shoulder
because both of us know that at heart we are the Tim Curry true believers who have to be shut out of the Decision-Making Room when it comes time to make the DIFFICULT CHOICES IN LIFE
NICOLE: Oh, good lord, yes. No pilgrim soul am I.
MALLORY: Any movie that can achieve a baseline level of filmmaking competence can convince me of ANYTHING
if you made me watch this movie fourteen times you would have an excellent Soviet spy on your hands, I am the most easily won-over filmgoer of all time
also: SAM NEILL.
Were truer words ever spoken than when you said “I’ll never understand why people go on about Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park when SAM NEILL WAS RIGHT THERE”
I submit: no. Those were the truest words.
NICOLE: Sam Neill is hot and when he says “I would have liked to have seen Montana” and fuckin DIES IN SEAN CONNERY’S ARMS I am verklempt
MALLORY: OH MY GODDDD
NICOLE: also you correctly guessed he was marked for death INSTANTLY
MALLORY: he hit every single “AIN’T NOTHIN’ HORRIBLE GONNA HAPPEN TODAY” trope
and as soon as he said he just wanted to drive around America and have two wives i was like, OH NO, THAT IS NOT A SUFFICIENTLY NOBLE CAUSE AND THIS MOVIE WILL KILL YOU FOR IT
i almost never correctly guess when someone is going to die so I felt sadly proud when my prediction came to pass
but yes a lot of his dialogue by the end of the movie was essentially “I lack Sean Connery’s profound self-reliance and certainly look forward to being alive and seeing the sun again”
NICOLE: I also loved when he said he was going to buy an RV.
Because the 1980s was really a time when the Soviet Union had kind of given up on having ideologies BUT also still sucked as a place to live, while the US was at peak WE HAVE SO MUCH SHIT YOU CAN BUY, so I can picture that character wistfully staring off into the middle distance pondering RV ownership.
i mean I know the Canyonero was an SUV
the point stands
NICOLE: He would have wanted a Canyonero if it had been available at the time, guaranteed.
Also, Beverly Crusher was in this movie for ten seconds, which was great.
MALLORY: oh god i loved that! “it’s me, Beverly Crusher! NOW SUBMARINES”
also great: every single scene between the Russian ambassador and the national security advisor dude
“You lost ANOTHER sub?”
It was so wonderful and arch and I am sure this is not how diplomacy really works but it was like The Philadelphia Story: Cold War edition and I loved it.
MALLORY: would 100% watch a romantic comedy between the two of them
I think because of the Beverly Crusher connection
and then also because Chris Pine later played Jack Ryan
we started talking about what the remake of this movie with the modern Star Trek cast would look like
and I temporarily blacked out
NICOLE: Everyone, please see Hell or High Water, I won’t say anything else about Chris Pine because Mallory gets too intense about it, but it was a (kisses fingers) masterpiece and Ben Foster was genius in it.
Oh, you very much did black out emotionally
MALLORY: I CANNOT TALK ABOUT CHRIS PINE, I CANNOT, I CANNOT
WHY DID I EVEN BRING UP THE SUBJECT
I NEED TO BE LOCKED IN A DARK AND QUIET ROOM FOR THREE DAYS
NICOLE: I’m so sorry.
MALLORY: the point is, John Cho would have made a really great Alec Baldwin
because he’s got Movie Star Swoopy Hair and that killer jawline and is good at Realizing Things
and Zoe Saldana would have made a perfect Sam Neill
also I just really want to see Zoe Saldana in a full Soviety style naval uniform
for reasons which are my own
(they are Prurient, Nicole)
NICOLE: Your reasons are always sufficient and I support you in them.
This movie is VERY TENSE, which I always forget. There is so much tension, and also torpedoes are more complicated than I had realized.
MALLORY: Oh, for fully thirty minutes in the back half of the movie I just replace all the dialogue with “Now we are doing a different Submarine Thing,” like how Linus used to bleep over all the character names from War and Peace in those old Peanuts strips
because I don’t know how torpedos work, and I have trouble visualizing things on like, maps or in three-dimensional space
NICOLE: I relied a lot on the aforementioned thing where Alec Baldwin is like “OF COURSE!”
MALLORY: did you feel bad for the political officer when Sean Connery killed him (I did)
and if the answer is No, did you feel bad when Sean Connery told everyone he died from SLIPPING ON HIS OWN MUG OF TEA
NICOLE: no and yes, because a) ride or die for Sean Connery’s plan from the GET GO and b) yeah that’s mean, give him some dignity in death
MALLORY: do you think I should bother watching any other Jack Ryan movies
or should I just leave it at this, the pinnacle of male achievement
NICOLE: you will only be disappointed, Harrison Ford never channeled the weird earnestness of Alec Baldwin’s Ryan, which is so important
MALLORY: the only thing I like about Harrison Ford is John Mulaney’s impression of him at the end of the Comeback Kid (“YOU SWITCHED THE SAMPLES! Why, so you could have…[huff of grim laughter] Provasic?”). Because who has an impression of Harrison Ford in the Fugitive in their back pocket?
N.B. At this point Nicole stopped replying to my gchats because she was too busy ordering a bassinet online because her baby is due in three weeks. So this will serve, I think, as our natural conclusion.
But I would have liked to have seen Montana.