From the first scenes, where the new Soviet Typhoon class submarine leaves the Polijarny Inlet, the sense of menace is profound. You just know this is going to be tense all the way through.
Sean Connery is perfectly cast as commander Marco Ramius, “The Vilnius Schoolteacher” of Russian attack Commanders. A bear of a man in charge of a monster of a boat with an arsenal of annihilation at his disposal …… and then there are the “doors”.
Meanwhile, the Americans become aware of the emergence of the new sub. Tom Clancy’s perennial character CIA analyst Jack Ryan puts his highly sensitised and suspicious nature to the test.
Concurrently, USS Dallas, an LA class attack submarine is patrolling near the Russian Sub base at Murmansk. It picks up the Red October, tracking the new beast of the sea carefully, until, the Russian inexplicably disappears.
Unaware of the proximity of a US sub, Ramius confronts a weasel like Soviet political officer who precociously awaits the commander in his private cabin. This does not bode well. Together they must open their mission orders from the Commander’s safe. They use their two independent, missile arming keys. A “dreadful accident” ensues and the scene is set.
It never lets up from here. The build of Red October is intense and anxiety provoking. As the Soviet fleet scrambles and the US NSA fears a fist strike, against the odds one person prosecutes a rational interpretation of events.
This is a deep sea game of cat and mouse that threatens the security of the world in a way that any one of us can relate to, fearfully, in fiction or in truth.
As relevant and potent today as when released in 1990, be afraid, be very afraid.