Review: OPERATION SEAWOLF, One Last Mission
Dolph Lundgren stars in a desperate World War II submarine drama, directed by Steven Luke. Frank Grillo also stars.
I'm a sucker for sub movies.
The film opens October 7 in movie theaters and On Demand via Shout! Studios.
Watching Jonathan Mostow's U-571 (2000) on opening day in a Ft. Worth, Texas movie theater blew me away (literally; the theater had the sound, especially the bass, pumped up way too high, which I discovered upon a repeat viewing in the same theater, but that first screening was gloriously loud.)
Ten years before that, watching The Hunt for Red October (1990) during its initial theatrical engagement kicked off my mania for submarine movies. Watching Tony Scott's crackling thriller, Crimson Tide (1995), albeit on television, laid the third foundation stone for me. Those three films are my personal touchstone submarine movies, though others, such as James Cameron's The Abyss (1989) and Wolfgang Petersen's Das Boot (1981), mean something to me as well, the former for its outstanding opening sequences, and the latter for its ambitious and expansive dramatic underpinning.
I mention all these films as introduction to my reaction to Operation Seawolf, written, produced and directed by Steven Luke. Its opening sequence reminded me of The Abyss, in that the doomed final voyage of a submarine sets the tone for what is to follow.
That being said, Operation Seawolf begins in April 1945, as the war in Europe was winding down. Commander Race Ingram (Frank Grillo) knows that a dying, vicious dog remains a threat, especially if it suspects its own fate. Receiving a report that a German military mission, codenamed Operation Seawolf and purported to represent a last-ditch attack upon the Eastern seaboard of the United States via the use of submarines, remains an active threat, he urged the ships under his command to begin hunting down the subs.
Captain Hans Kessler (Dolph Lundgren), on leave in Norway, is called back to service in order to lead Operation Seawolf. He's an officer who remains loyal to the Fatherland, and so he reports for duty, putting aside his own reservations and recognition that Germany will surely lose the war, no matter what he does.
In that position, though, he is potentially even more of a lethal threat than ever to American forces. Lundgren, who is even older than I am, commands the screen with his exhausted presence. Granted, he may never be known for his thespian abilities, yet he still knows how to dominate a scene, even without saying much.
His height and bulk can fill the frame from a physical perspective. And he's now at a point in his career when we, the audience, add notes from our own personal history of watching him bash his way through movies for nearly 40 years.
Lundgren also appears in a supporting role in Section 8, which is now streaming on AMC Plus and offers a comparison of expectations with Operation Seawolf. In the former, he plays an exemplary military man whose motives are called into question; in the latter, he plays a weary military man whose competence is called into question.
In both films, his characters must deal with the audience's expectations for a character played by Dolph Lundgren. And in both, he exceeds those expectations.
Operation Seawolf may be a bit too ambitious for its budget, but it's well worth seeking out for anyone with a rooting interest in Dolph Lundgren.
- Steven Luke
- Steven Luke
- Frank Grillo
- Dolph Lundgren
- Hiram A. Murray