|Directed by||Thomas Vinterberg|
|Produced by||Ariel Zeitoun|
|Screenplay by||Robert Rodat|
|Based on||A Time to Die|
by Robert Moore
Max von Sydow
|Music by||Alexandre Desplat|
|Cinematography||Anthony Dod Mantle|
|Edited by||Valdís Óskarsdóttir|
|Distributed by||EuropaCorp Distribution|
|Box office||$6.5 million|
Kursk (released as The Command in the US and as Kursk: The Last Mission in the UK) is a 2018 English-language Belgian-Luxembourgian drama film directed by Thomas Vinterberg based on Robert Moore's book A Time to Die, about the true story of the 2000 Kursk submarine disaster.
In Murmansk Russian Navy Captain-Lieutenant Mikhail Averin prepares for the Northern Fleet's exercise involving his posting, the Oscar II-class submarine Kursk. Budget cuts prevent the sailors from receiving their earned pay, forcing Averin and his friends Anton and Oleg to trade their submariners' watches for supplies for the wedding of their crewmate Pavel. After the wedding the sailors say their goodbyes to their families as the boat goes out to sea.
En route to the exercise area, Pavel, the weapons officer, notes that the temperature of the experimental HTP torpedo is beginning to increase rapidly, and requests permission to fire it early due to the risk of a kerosene leak. Noting the submarine's proximity to the allowed zone and the still acceptable temperature of the torpedo, the captain orders Pavel and his men to wait. As the temperature rises further the torpedo explodes, devastating the boat and killing the weapons room crew.
Averin and his men, located aft, immediately begin to take precautions and determine the situation. The rapidly increasing temperature of the weapons room explodes the remaining ordnance, killing the bridge crew and sending the ship to the bottom. The survivors rapidly move aft securing compartments as they go. Averin contacts Anton in the reactor room, who says goodbye as the compartment floods, having secured the reactor and prevented a nuclear disaster.
The remaining men rally in the aft-most compartment of the boat, which is rapidly taking on water. With the pump not powerful enough to stop water entering the compartment, the crew desperately await rescue. Meanwhile, the sailors' wives, including Averin's wife Tanya and Pavel's newlywed Daria, have heard rumors making their way from the Fleet regarding Kursk. While naval officers give them no answer, they note that the sole rescue ship has not yet left port.
Commodore David Russell of the Royal Navy has detected the seismic signature of the dual explosions and quickly deduces that the Kursk has had an accident. His offer of assistance is rebuffed by his acquaintance Admiral Grudzinsky, commanding the Northern Fleet, believing there could not be survivors. Grudzinsky's men hear the taps of the trapped men on the ship's hull, and the rescue ship is immediately deployed. Tanya and the other wives are reassured by this while Averin and his men are ecstatic upon hearing the thud of the rescue submersible on their hull.
However, the aged and ill-maintained submersible is unable to establish a seal, and must return to surface along with a 12-hour recharge of its batteries. The trapped men begin to run out of oxygen, so Averin and another crewman are forced to dive into the flooded compartments to obtain oxygen cartridges, nearly dying in the process. The men agonizingly await another attempt with little food and only a few blankets, as the water level slowly continues to rise. The Russian submersible's attempts to connect with the submarine continue to end in failure, as the morale of the crewmen and their wives on shore continues to plummet.
Having heard no taps from the men during the latest rescue attempt, and believing them to be near-death if anything, the Russian Navy's Admiral Vitaly Petrenko finally accepts Russell's offer of aid with up-to-date equipment and divers. On the submarine, Averin composes a goodbye to his family, hoping that his young son Misha might have some memories of him. Oleg organizes a "breakfast buffet" with the little food available to raise morale, but during the celebration, crewman Leo accidentally drops an oxygen cartridge into the water, starting a flash fire that consumes the remaining oxygen. With minutes left of oxygen, and no means of escape, the remaining men sing their sea-shanty, "The Sailor's Band", wishing goodbye to each other.
Russell's divers finally manage to enter the boat, but have arrived too late, and find no survivors. At the funeral for the men, Misha refuses to shake Admiral Petrenko's hand, evidencing the anger of the families at the stone-walling and refusal to accept aid by the Fleet. In honor of his father and for his courageous stand against the intimidating Admiral, Averin's fellow sailors give Misha his father's watch, to remember him by.
- Matthias Schoenaerts as Russian Navy captain-lieutenant Mikhail Averin
- Léa Seydoux as Tanya Averina, Mikhail Averin's wife
- Artemiy Spiridonov as Misha Averin, Mikhail Averin's son
- Colin Firth as Commodore David Russell
- Martin Brambach as Captain Gennady Shirokov
- Guido De Craene as Calpin
- Geoffrey Newland as Tony Scott
- Danny Van Meenen as Pål Dinessen
- Kristof Coenen as Sasha
- August Diehl as Anton Markov
- Magnus Millang as Oleg Lebedev
- Peter Simonischek as Admiral Andrey Grudzinsky
- Max von Sydow as Admiral Vitaly Petrenko
- Bjarne Henriksen as Russian Captain
- Matthias Schweighöfer as Pavel Sonin
- Lars Brygmann as Kasyanenko
- Ilyas Hamzi as NATO Officer Green
- Michael Nyqvist as Admiral Nesterov (deleted scenes)
On 17 August 2015, it was announced that EuropaCorp was developing a film based on the 2000 K-141 Kursk submarine disaster, and that Martin Zandvliet had been hired to direct the film from a script by Robert Rodat, based on Robert Moore's 2002 book A Time to Die. Kursk would have been Zandvliet's first English-language film. On 21 January 2016, it was reported that Zandvliet was no longer attached and that EuropaCorp had hired Thomas Vinterberg to direct the film.
On 2 March 2016, Matthias Schoenaerts was announced in the cast, reteaming with Vinterberg after Far from the Madding Crowd (2015). Colin Firth joined the cast on 26 May 2016. Léa Seydoux joined the cast on 7 February 2017, in the role of Tanya, the wife of Mikhail Averin, a Russian Navy captain-lieutenant played by Matthias Schoenaerts. Rachel McAdams was once in talks for the role of Tanya. Deadline Hollywood also reported that Firth would play David Russell, a British naval commander going against Russia's warnings to try to save the men on the Kursk.
On 15 March 2017, it was reported that Vladimir Putin's character had been cut from the film before an actor was cast for the role. According to The Hollywood Reporter, EuropaCorp's president, Luc Besson, wanted to shift the story's focus to the rescue mission rather than the politics behind the disaster. One theory noted by The Hollywood Reporter is that nobody at EuropaCorp wanted to be hacked. (The film The Interview had angered Kim Jong-un and was believed to have sparked the Sony hack in 2014.) Putin had been Russian president for eight months when the tragedy had occurred. He was supposed to appear as a supporting character in at least five scenes and was sympathetically portrayed in the original Kursk script, which highlighted why he had taken the tragedy personally (Putin's father had been a submariner).
Alexandre Desplat composed the movie score. The crew includes Catherine Marchand as the costume designer, Anthony Dod Mantle as the director of photography, Thierry Flamand as the production designer and Valdis Oskardottir as the film's editor.
Subject matter experts such as journalist Robert Moore (author of the novel upon which the film is based), David Russell (British Royal Navy commodore who had tried to save the men from the Kursk), and submarine expert Ramsey Martin acted as advisors for the film.
The project was produced by France's EuropaCorp with Belgium's Belga Productions and Luxembourg's VIA EST.
Shooting was scheduled to start in September 2016, but it had to be postponed due to Russia's defense ministry not issuing a permit for shooting in the country, which would run for about a month. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Russia's defense ministry originally promised cooperation with the crew to provide realism to the movie. However, later it reportedly grew concerned about granting access to classified information and sensitive locations. On 7 February 2017, ScreenDaily.com reported that shooting was scheduled to start in April.
Filming started at the Naval base of Toulon, France, on 26 April 2017. Some scenes were filmed with Colin Firth at the commercial port of Brest, France, between 2 May and 6 May 2017, including scenes aboard the rescue ship Atlantic Tonjer, serving as the Seaway Eagle. On 8 May 2017, it was reported that shooting would take place not only in France but also in locations throughout Europe, including Belgium and Norway. On 12 July 2017, the crew was in Jette (Brussels) and scenes were filmed in "Salle Excelsior" (Place Cardinal Mercier).
The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on 6 September 2018. It is scheduled to be released through DirecTV Cinema on 23 May 2019, before being released in a limited release on 21 June 2019, by Saban Films.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 69%, based on 49 reviews, with an average rating of 6.33/10. The website's consensus reads, "The Command plumbs the depths of real-life disaster to tell an uneven yet reasonably diverting story of lives caught between bureaucracy and certain doom." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 55 out of 100, based on results from 12 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
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