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It’s been a while since a decent submarine movie came out, possibly because changes in war tactics make submarines pretty outdated. The last good ones I can think of were The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and maybe U-571 or Below, but all of those had their faults as well. Not to be confused with the terrible Billy Zane comic adaptation, Todd Robinson’s Phantom might make submarines relevant again, and possibly also make Ed Harris relevant again.
Phantom is a thriller set in the Cold War, and pits a delusional Soviet missile submarine captain against David Duchovny’s rogue KGB agent over the possession of a nuclear missile. Though the plot seems fairly formulaic, the subtext and character backgrounds could raise this film out of stereotypical waters. Duchovny and Harris recently sat down to discuss the film with Phantom’s soft-spoken executive producer Ricardo Costa Reis, the RCR of production company RCR Media Group,
In discussing what brought him to the project in the first place, Duchovny explains, “I think it was the intrigue of the story, the thriller aspect of it. You don’t really know what’s going on. I had to read it three or four times…It was fascinating to see how Todd worked it out.” As far as the message of the film is concerned, he thinks “it’s pertinent still where you have the Russian POV of the Americans, which is: ‘they’re going to kill us all, they hate us, they’re going to destroy us,’ and the Russians were indoctrinated into this philosophy.”
Ed Harris talks more about his own character, whom he describes as “a decent honorable guy who is pretty soulful, loyal, and pretty bright,” but one who “got into a situation where he had a major accident and has been suffering the results of that ever since.” With such focus on the character, Harris says his “concern is not so much what the whole film is saying or what it’s about,” but that “ultimately it’s about restraint in the global political situation, in terms that all of these countries have nuclear capability and are capable of blowing each other up, and you can hope to God that it’s never used.”
Phantom, which also stars Lance Henriksen and William Fichtner, opens on March 1, 2013, and will hopefully be as politically charged as its stars are having us believe. And now to watch the first five minutes of Down Periscope before turning it off.