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Kursk two underwater odysseys that even coincide in the area where the action is set: the Barents Sea arrive on our screens a Kursk few weeks apart. The first of these, ‘Hunter Killer’, was a militaristic fantasy that seemed to come directly from the simple political divide between bad guys (them) and good guys (us) of action movies of the 1990s, including a coup in Russia. ‘Kursk’ has his gaze set in another direction, no matter how much the coordinates of that inhospitable sea, black and frozen, coincide.

To begin with, its story has nothing of politics-fiction, but it happened in the year 2000: the Russian submarine Kursk is doing some strange maneuvers with heavy weapons (similar ones had not been done for ten years), but an accident causes a series of explosions on the ship, kills most of the crew and leaves the rest to their fate. Rescue tasks begin in an extreme situation and in extremely harsh adverse conditions, but neither Russia wants to accept international aid that would come in handy, nor are the desperate families who have been left out adequately informed.

Despite being Thomas Vintenberg’s most commercial film, and enjoying the comforts of a much looser production than in his first films – such as ‘Celebration’ -, attached to the Dogma movement, the director tries to make his approach complacent. For this reason, although he sometimes portrays the physical drama of the injured (without giving up moments of enormous tension, which at some point remind us of classics like ‘The Poseidon Adventure’), his focus is on how bureaucracy and pride of the Russian army are suffocating the possibilities of the sailors to come out of the trance alive.