Hunter Killer 4K Blu-ray Review

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It's no Red October, but as sub actioners go, you could do a lot worse

by Casimir Harlow Feb 15, 2019 at 3:41 PM

  • Hunter Killer Film Review

    Gerard Butler's Hunter Killer delivers surprisingly entertaining sub action, playing it by-the-book but still maintaining thrills above and below the water.

    Based on the 2012 novel Firing Point, apparently this project has been on Butler's radar for quite some time, with the Olympus Has Fallen action star championing its production over a number of years. The story is essentially a contemporary The Hunt for Red October in its basic framework, positing a US sub commander tasked with investigating a missing sub, only to find a bigger conspiracy that threatens to boil over and see the Russians and Americans go toe to toe, finding unlikely alliances from the Russian side as he defies orders to try and prevent World War III.

    Possibly disappointing for some, but equally allowing for a grander breadth of action, the events unfold as much on land as they do under water, as a spec ops unit find themselves caught up in Russia during a coup, with their mission crossing paths with that of the sub commander. Whilst a decade ago the roles may have been reversed, with co-star Gary Oldman taking charge of the ship whilst Butler deals lead on the ground, curiously - for a passion project from Butler - he elects the less action-driven role of playing the commander, getting more screen time for sure, but also hardly Connery in terms of either presence or acting.

    Hunter Killer is to The Hunt for Red October what Olympus Has Fallen is to Die Hard

    Despite this, Butler does a perhaps surprisingly good job (this is no Geostorm), whilst Oldman phones it in (this is more Criminal than Darkest Hour) with his generic bureaucrat role back at home base, and Toby Stephens (Netflix's Lost in Space) gets to go all Lone Survivor-lite as the leader of the spec ops team who are deep behind enemy lines. A vastly underused - but still nice to see - Michael Nyqvist (John Wick, Ghost Protocol) also turns in what was one of his last ever performances. But you're hardly here for the cast, you're here for the sub action, and Hunter Killer affords a fair amount, threatening to peak early with some excellent first act underwater thrills, but delivering some tense stealth movement and escape manoeuvres in the final act too, with more than enough against-all-odds ground action from the four-man team that have to infiltrate a Russian military base.

    It's really not going to win any awards, and those burned by Butler's lacklustre output of late may take more persuasion than this, but those out for some new submarine action thrills could do a whole lot worse. Indeed Hunter Killer is to The Hunt for Red October what Olympus Has Fallen is to Die Hard, lacking the finesse of an action classic, but still largely delivering the B-movie goods.

    Hunter Killer 4K Picture

    Hunter Killer Hunter Killer 4K Picture
    Hunter Killer comes to UK Ultra HD Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate, who offer up likely the exact same excellent presentation that their US release was afforded, with no specific details about what is almost certainly a 2K Digital Intermediate, with nonetheless impressive video culled from the original 3.4K digital shoot.

    The disc presents a native 3840 x 2160p resolution image utilising the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 2.40:1. It uses 10-bit video depth, a Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR), as well as Dolby Vision, and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec.

    We reviewed the UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Hunter Killer on a LG 55B7 Dolby Vision 4K Ultra HD OLED TV with an LG UP970 Dolby Vision 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

    Largely demo excellence

    Both above and below water, Hunter Killer's 4K image offers up superior detail, lapping up the snowy environmental nuances in the first act of the film, doing well under what could have been limited lighting conditions on the subs, but ending up instead being - generally - excellently represented too, and lapping up the increasingly weathered visages of the key players. There is some degree of variation, with a couple of shots looking a tiny bit more noisy, oddly normally back at the command centre rather than on the sub itself and, of course, the exterior work looking the best of the lot - night or day thanks to Dolby Vision.

    Indeed WCG, HDR and Dolby Vision are of huge benefit to the image, allowing sub console lights to pop, as well as the lighting itself, and affording the explosions (particularly underwater) some wonderfully vibrant range. Black levels are intense, affording no sign of any crush, and there's very little to fault in the image - perhaps some of the final act's green screen effects have overblown whites, but otherwise it's largely demo excellence.

    Hunter Killer 4K Sound

    Hunter Killer Hunter Killer 4K Sound
    Hunter Killer's 4K release doesn't afford an upgrade over its 1080p Blu-ray counterpart in the audio department, but that's because you can't get much better than the Blu-ray's Dolby Atmos track, which is ported over here and which provides an excellent, utterly immersive accompaniment to the action.

    Whatever your thoughts about the film itself, the Atmos track makes all the difference

    Dialogue remains well-prioritised across the piece, coming through clearly and coherently throughout, whilst the score - which is hardly even approaching memorable - at least does a commendable job at keeping the pacing and upping the tension during the action sequences. Of course, it's those self-same action sequences which give the 3D immersive audio Atmos its fullest workout, from the explosive opening sub prologue to the various encounters both above and below the water. Torpedo's tunnel through the water and detonate with LFE-driven weight, whilst 50 cal mounted guns tear up the landscape above, giving a breadth of superior action setpieces driven with furious aural intensity. Funnily enough, however, the fine needlepoint precision of the track is almost as impressive during the quieter stealth sequences, building up impressive tension with the attention to detail. All in all, whatever your thoughts about the film itself, the Atmos track makes all the difference.

    Hunter Killer 4K Extras

    Hunter Killer Hunter Killer 4K Extras
    As usual, Lionsgate do a commendable job of porting over the extras - a Commentary and Featurette - over to the 4K disc itself

    Hunter Killer 4K Verdict

    Hunter Killer Hunter Killer 4K Verdict
    You could do a whole lot worse than picking up this excellent 4K disc

    Hunter Killer's UK 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release boasts excellent Dolby Vision-enhanced video and even more impressive Dolby Atmos-enhanced sound, and, as usual, Lionsgate do a commendable job or porting over all of the extras - a Commentary and Featurette - over to the 4K disc itself. For fans of sub actioners - a very specific sub-genre - you could do a whole lot worse than picking up this excellent 4K disc.

    The Rundown



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