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Kursk: The Last Mission review
Dramatisation of the Kursk submarine tragedy of 2000.

Review by Ben Peyton

Directed by: Thomas Vinterberg

Starring: Colin Firth, Matthias Schoenaerts, Léa Seydoux, Matthias Schweighöfer, Peter Simonischek, August Diehl, Max von Sydow

Kursk: The Last Mission dvd

For the crew of the nuclear-powered submarine Kursk, it was supposed to be a standard training exercise with three phases. Fire a test missile, fire a test torpedo and then return to their base undetected. Despite numerous warnings about potentially faulty equipment, the practice went ahead, resulting in tragedy for the 118 men on board and their families. Kursk: The Last Mission is a dramatisation of these events, based on the book 'A Time to Die' by ITN’s former Moscow correspondent Robert Moore.

kursk the last mission review

Director Thomas Vinterberg quickly introduces the key players of the events, including Captain Mikhail Averin (Matthias Schoenaerts) and recently married Pavel (Matthias Schweighöfer). They’re a likeable bunch, pawning their Submariner watches to give Pavel and his new bride the wedding they deserve, as they knock back the vodka as only a Russian Naval band of brothers could do.

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As the drill commences, reservations about the safety of various pieces of equipment are voiced, yet ignored, and as events spiral out of control the Kursk finds herself stranded at the bottom of the Barents Sea. Under the water, a fight for survival by the remaining crew is harrowing and tense while above, the families of the stricken sailors are desperately seeking answers from an obstinate and evasive government.

kursk the last mission review

Although Kursk: The Last Mission may have been given a little too much Hollywood treatment, subsequently creating a by the numbers disaster movie script, there are some horrifically tense underwater sequences courtesy of Anthony Dod Mantle’s creative camerawork, and the exceptional cast are all showcased well. Léa Seydoux has plenty to get her teeth into as Averin’s pregnant wife, Tanya, and Colin Firth shows authority as David Russell, a Royal Navy Commodore eager to offer Britain’s assistance in the recovery operation. Composer Alexandre Desplat provides a poignant and atmospheric score.

kursk the last mission review

Kursk: The Last Mission works best during the submarine scenes. Claustrophobic and uncomfortable, it’s a haunting take on the events of August 12th, 2000, where sacrifices were made in the name of duty, but the catalogue of errors that followed the catastrophe, primarily from the Russian Navy, leave more questions than answers.

Kursk: The Last Mission is on Netflix UK now.

2019 movie reviews