Lose ‘The Look,’ Ford

Old tricks and a bad script make K-19 a flop.

“No, Liam, ‘The Look’ has more of a scowl to it, like this. Grrr!”

“No, Liam, ‘The Look’ has more of a scowl to it, like this. Grrr!”

Rated 2.0

K-19: The Widowmaker is one of those movies that features Harrison Ford’s “The Look” for many minutes of the picture.

“The Look,” which is actually captured on the film’s promotional poster, is the one that Ford employs to let us know that things are serious, so serious that he just might cry or get really angry. Physical traits of “The Look” give him the appearance of somebody who is both pissed and slightly put-off by something that smells bad. We’re not talking something aggressively malodorous, like a dead cow, just something with a slightly pungent odor, like a tomato a week or two past its expiration date. His brow furrows just a tad, his nostrils flair a touch and his lips hint downward.

I hate that look. Ford can be a good actor, but movies where he constantly resorts to “The Look” are often films where the script isn’t good enough to provide those feelings of dread, sadness, impending death, etc. So Ford puts on “The Look,” and we know things are just sucky for him and those in the immediate area. No real acting necessary.

The movie is about some nuclear sub that Russia forced into the ocean well before it was ready to ride, and the radioactive mishaps that inevitably occurred. The film, supposedly based on real-life events, attempts to convey how treacherously close we came to WWIII back in 1961 when the sub’s nuclear core heated up, nearly exploding in close proximity to a NATO base.

Well, the film generates next to no real tension because we know the thing didn’t blow up and start a chain reaction that destroyed the world. Therefore, K:19 resorts to old tricks to provide intensity, most recently displayed in better films like The Hunt for Red October and Crimson Tide. The script is stacked with mutinous moments, small pets that will inevitably perish, temperature gauges on the rise and fall and clashing superior officers.

Ford plays Captain “The Look” Alexei, assigned to the ship when Russian government officials find the sub’s first commander (Liam Neeson) inadequate. Alexei’s job is to whip the crew into shape while looking like somebody just farted, and Neeson’s job is to get pissed off when it appears that the gregarious Alexei is going to get everybody killed.

Of course, in tune with Crimson Tide, the two angry commanders will have a meeting of the minds and make nice before it is all over. The producers should be ashamed of themselves for the preview trailer containing footage that gives away the ending. Then again, the movie isn’t all that good, so who gives a crap?

Director/producer Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break) fails to make this film gel, and while much of the fault can go to Christopher Kyle’s clumsy script, it doesn’t help that the submarine CGI effects are shoddy. Yes, another big-budget movie with special computer effects that look no better than your average Game Boy.

Ford can be great, but I can’t stand watching him slum in conventional trash. His recent appearance on the Late Night With Conan O’Brien was refreshing, because he acted like a clown and revealed desires to work with people like the Farrelly and Coen brothers. He has said such things in the past, yet continues to appear in your typical Harrison Ford roles to please the public.

It turns out that the public isn’t really liking this one, as a low first weekend box office has revealed. It is time for Ford, who just turned 60, to change his tune. It’s also time for a good acting coach and director to advise a complete ditching of "The Look" because he’s done it to death.