Phantom is a submarine movie based on a set of true facts. It concerns the sinking of a Russian submarine and the suppositions about how it came to happen. Ed Harris and David Duchovny lead a first-rate cast in this movie that is not as menacing as it could have been but still packs some dramatic impact.
Demi (Harris) is a Russian Naval Commander who is sent out on his last mission before he retires. He is accompanied by most of the men who have sailed with him in the past. This includes his first officer Alexi (William Fichtner). Also on board are two men added at the last moment by the KGB. Bruni (Duchovny) is the main man in this duo.
As the submarine sails into open water Bruni begins to exercise his power. Demi tries to go along with him knowing that he has the political power behind him, however, when things become too strident and bizarre he tries to resist. Demi feels Bruni is going to try to start World War III and he is the only person standing in his way of success.
Most of the film takes place within the confines of the submarine. This makes the movie a little claustrophobic but also adds to the intensity of the story. There could have been more intensity and menace added to the plot but as is, the movie holds the audience's interest.
Although all of the actors play Russians there is no attempt at accents. All of the actors speak "American" and that is accepted. In truth trying to blend in a variety of Russian accents would have been awkward at best.
Harris is excellent as the world-weary Demi. He plays him as a man who knows some tragedy has entered his life and is expecting it. Still he makes a valiant effort to protect his men, his boat and his country. As his second in command Fichtner's Alexi matches the heroics of his Captain. It is a good role for Fichtner who is one of Hollywood's most underrated and underappreciated actors.
Duchovny can play oily and sneaky with ease. From the first smirk that appears on his face you do not like the character of Bruni, and this dislike continues to grow throughout the film. A revelation at the end as to how Demi and Bruni know each other is awkward and unimportant.
Also providing strong support are Lance Henriksen, Jason Beghe, Sean Patrick Flannery and Jonathan Schaech. Each plays a small part in building up the suspense in the story. Still it is primarily Harris's movie from beginning to end.
The film is rated R for profanity and violence.
The movie did not get a large amount of publicity and only showed on a limited number of screens so its box office impact will be negligible. It should find its audience when it released on Blu-Ray.
I scored Phantom a ghostly 6 out of 10.
Jackie K Cooper