A high school swim champion with a troubled past enrolls in the U.S. Coast Guard's "A" School, where legendary rescue swimmer Ben Randall teaches him some hard lessons about loss, love, and self-sacrifice.
Kidnapped boy Phillip Perry (T.J. Lowther) strikes up a friendship with his captor Butch Haynes (Kevin Costner): an escaped convict on the run from the law, while the search is headed up by honorable Texas Ranger "Red" Garrett (Clint Eastwood).
In October, 1962, U-2 surveillance photos reveal that the Soviet Union is in the process of placing nuclear weapons in Cuba. These weapons have the capability of wiping out most of the Eastern and Southern United States in minutes if they become operational. President John F. Kennedy and his advisors must come up with a plan of action against the Soviets. Kennedy is determined to show that he is strong enough to stand up to the threat, and the Pentagon advises U.S. military strikes against Cuba--which could lead the way to another U.S. invasion of the island. However, Kennedy is reluctant to follow through, because a U.S. invasion could cause the Soviets to retaliate in Europe. A nuclear showdown appears to be almost inevitable. Can it be prevented?Written by
The destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy (DD-850) was loaned to the movie company by the Battleship Massachusetts Foundation in Fall River, Massachusetts. In addition to being named for a Kennedy brother killed in WWII it was actually part of the Cuban Blockade. The ship was towed to Narragansett Bay for filming. The ship is normally on display in Fall River. It portrayed both itself and the USS John R. Pierce (DD-753). For filming the ship was crewed by active duty Navy and Naval Reservists in period uniforms. Some of the systems such as radar antennae and gun mounts were made semi-operational, although the engines were not operational and it was towed by a tugboat. See more »
President Kennedy wanted an eyewitness account so badly that Commander Ecker was ordered to the Pentagon to brief the Joint Chiefs of Staff immediately after landing his RF-8A Crusader, sweaty flight suit and all. This is often thought to be a glaring error in the movie, but his attire is absolutely accurate. Cdr. Ecker was not even allowed to exit his Crusader when he landed at NAS Cecil Field, Jacksonville FL. His film canisters were unloaded from his aircraft, he was refueled and sent immediately to Washington D.C., landing at Andrews AFB and whisked by limousine directly to the Pentagon where he met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, apologizing right away for appearing at the briefing in his sweat-soaked flight suit. Cdr. Ecker, parched from the Cuba overflight and then the flight north to Washington, asked in a hoarse voice for a drink of water when he arrived. He refuses it in the movie. See more »
[addressing the NPIC photograph analyst]
Okay - let's have it.
NPIC Photo Interpreter:
Gentlemen, as most of you now know, a U-2 over Cuba Sunday morning took a series of disturbing photographs. Our analysis at NPIC indicates that the Soviet Union has followed up its conventional weapons build-up in Cuba with the introduction of surface-to-surface, medium-range ballistic missiles, or MRBMs. Our official estimate at this time is that the missile system is the SS-4 'Sandal'. We do not believe that the missiles are as yet...
[...] See more »
I watched this movie today with a number of students from my International Politics class, and from the standpoint of a politics professor, this film was absolutely extraordinary. This is a movie about the development of foreign policy in a crisis; it spells out with brilliant detail the decision-making process of JFK's inner circle, the tension between the Executive Office of the President and the Departments of State and Defense, and the attempts by the Military Industrial Complex (namely the Joint Chiefs) to undermine the diplomatic approaches favored by the president. It highlights the conflict between military standard operating procedures ("rules of engagement") and the better judgment/common sense of right-thinking human beings. It hints at conspiracies to (later) depose and otherwise get rid of both Kennedy and Khruschev from within for what turned out to be a very unpopular resolution with the hardliners on both sides. I especially like that the movie acknowledged the humanity of the individual decision-makers without getting too Capra-esquire or preachy.
I can see why this film hasn't been a great commercial success. It is not your standard big studio fare. It's quite cerebral, and although it has some exciting pre-conflict scenes, it's not a "war film". (It reminds me a bit of "Three Kings" in that regard- both films were, in my opinion, mis-marketed. They both seemed to target the younger male action crowd, when both movies are really made for a more intellectual audience.) I liked how the Soviets were not cartoonishly vilified, as is common in a lot of Cold War era films. They were shown to be somewhat calculating and strategic, but not irrational or more importantly, inhuman. In fact, one of the most fascinating parts of the film is the revelation that both sides lack information as to the other side's true intentions. It was this uncertainty that back in October 1962, could have led to the end of civilization as we know it.
The acting was solid (Steven Culp was very, very good as Robert Kennedy- so good, in fact, that I'm afraid he'll have a hard time getting cast in the future. There was audible gasp in the audience when he came on the screen and WAS Bobby). Coaster's accent was actually annoying (as an earlier reviewer noted), but it's forgivable in light of the moving, somewhat understated performance he turns in. It is the directing that takes the cake, however. From the moment the chain of events was set in motion, the tension does NOT let up. It actually feels like you are back in 1962 living through the events of those two weeks- honestly, there was nary a moment to relax until the resolution was wrought. I recommend this film especially strongly to high school and college age students who are too young to have any Cold War memory, as well as to those who lived through the era and may have forgotten what it felt like to come this close.
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