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Review: Phantom

By JAKE MULLIGAN  |  February 27, 2013
1.5 1.5 Stars



Simultaneously bizarre and banal, director Todd Robinson's military procedural seems designed to please no one. Ed Harris and William Fichtner star as the commanders of a Cold War–era Soviet sub, making a final journey before retirement. What starts as a training mission ends up as a struggle for the nukes on board, with our stars battling — New York/New Jersey accents in tow, hilariously — for the fate of the world. Borderline impenetrable jargon-based dialogue sets the static tone, but it's broken by melodramatic overtures — this is the kind of movie where someone uses their dying breath to say, "You have to pick a side." And then there are Harris's drunken epileptic incidents; overloaded on rum and racked with guilt, his hallucinations leave Phantom looking like a Kenneth Anger movie. The crass Americanization invalidates the detail; the silly melodrama invalidates the realism of the script; and a climactic spiritualist conceit leaves it all feeling like self-parody. Crimson Tide this isn't.

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