In the movie “Hunter Killer,” which hit theaters this past October, a fictional stand in for Russian President Vladimir Putin finds himself captured by his rogue defense minister. The ensuing coup attempt promises to ignite a third world war, and as such, U.S. Navy SEALs and submariners are dispatched to save the Russian president and, in turn, the world.
As you watch the film, which was based on the novel “Firing Point,” you get a sense that the conflict you’re watching transpire occupies a slightly removed reality from our own. Russian military prowess, particularly in regard to their troubled surface fleet, feels exaggerated for the sake of drama and, if you squint and tilt your head just right, the end starts to look an awful lot like Rocky IV. The Russian president, who takes a bullet while aiding the SEALs in the firefight for his rescue, proves to be a strong and engaged leader, and America’s intervention in a coup that would have cost him his life results in the promise of improved relations between the two states moving forward.
“If I can change, and you can change, maybe we can all change.” Rocky told a crowd of Russian spectators after using his fists to end the Cold War. Movies, of course, are allowed to inject that sort of optimism into their climaxes. Real life, however, rarely works out so well.
As it would turn out, Russia’s real president, Vladimir Putin, never found the time to watch “Hunter Killer,” but he recently had a synopsis read to him by a reporter.
“In short, the Russian president is taken hostage at an Arctic base, and this was done by the defense minister, who leads the coup,” he explained. “And the Russian president is being rescued by the commander of a U.S. submarine that penetrated the base.”
“Our base?” Putin asked.
“Our base, of course,” the reporter answered. “Our Arctic base.”
“Two small naval boats — gifts from the United States to the Ukrainians — could not pass through the Kerch Strait,” Putin responded, referencing a recent incident in which Russian ships opened fire on and seized three Ukrainian vessels attempting to traverse the Kerch Strait. “And you want a U.S. sub to enter our base? Sounds like a bad film.”
Putin, whose proxy is played by Alexander Diachenko — a Russian born actor that stands a full eight inches taller than the real Russian president — chose not to address the concept of another Russian revolution, but of course, you can’t really blame him. The last one didn’t work out very well for the Russians in power.
Watch the trailer for “Hunter Killer” below: