It seems that as each generation of Americans ages into adulthood, most tend to covet the era of our own childhood as the “golden age” of popular culture.  My birth date places me somewhere between junior-Gen-Xer and senior Millennial: just young enough to retain my passion for 80’s and 90’s films, but too old to understand skinny jeans or why people suddenly love avocados so much.

Being a connoisseur of movies from the latter decades of the 20th century means I grew up on a steady diet of films that included “The Hunt for Red October” and “Crimson Tide.” These films, though separated by nearly a decade, bridged the gap in my young mind between the science fiction I loved so much in Star Trek and Star Wars and the grounded reality I saw on the news. Submarine commanders, I thought to myself as a kid, were our Captain Kirks — operating alone and unafraid in the vast emptiness of the world’s oceans.

As I’d come to find when I spoke to the authors of “Firing Point,” the book the new submarine movie “Hunter Killer” is based on, I had at least part of that right. George Wallace, co-author of the book and a former submarine commander himself, told me in no uncertain terms that working aboard a submarine involves quite a bit of fear indeed — and after watching Hunter Killer, I feel as though I have a solid grasp on why.

I was granted a private screening of Hunter Killer last week, and once the James Bond-like allure of watching studio personnel ferry the advanced screener into the building and posting “guards” (theater staff) outside the door to make sure the world didn’t get a peak, I felt myself get nervous. The submarine movies of my youth set the standard rather high… how would I be able to objectively compare this new effort to the sorts of films I call “the classics” and force my wife to sit through at regular intervals? Is it fair to compare Gerard Butler’s command of the Arkansas to Sean Connery aboard the Red October? Could the drama on the bridge be depicted with the same suspense that permeated throughout Crimson Tide?