Best submarine movies to watch before you watch Vigil

(Pocket-lint) – There’s a new thriller coming from the makers of Line of Duty – one of the BBC’s most watched shows – and it’s called Vigil.

The action is centred on HMS Vigil, when the disappearance of a Scottish fishing trawler and death on the Vigil draw together the police, Navy and security services.

The new show is going to star Suranne Jones (Coronation Street, Doctor Foster), Martin Compston (Line of Duty) and Rose Leslie (“you know nothing Jon Snow”) and is due to air on BBC One later in 2021.

But before you get there, you’ll want to make sure you’re fully immersed in the best movies about submarines.

The best submarine movies

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Das Boot (1981)

Nothing quite takes you as close to the edge of insanity as Wolfgang Peterson’s Das Boot. It’s about the crew of U-96 and German submarine in the Atlantic in 1941. It explores the division between ideology and cynicism around the war, the excitement and fear of action, as well as the sense of confinement that comes with being on a submarine. It’s not just a great submarine film, it’s a great war film. Like Downfall, this is film to watch in its original German as this is so much better than the English dubbed version.

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U-571 (2000)

U-571 tells the story about the capture of an Enigma cipher machine by the US Navy. This fictious tale gets you into plenty of submarine action with an A list cast: Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel. Set in 1942, the plot attracted criticism because it is pitched as the first capture of an Enigma machine; actually British destroyer HMS Bulldog captured the first Enigma machine from U-110 in May 1941. Still, it’s a great submarine film.

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K19 The Widowmaker (2002)

Set in 1961 it’s the height of the Cold War and K19 is the Soviet Union’s first nuclear missile submarine. This is the tale of a Soviet submarine, based on historical events with some great performances from Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson. If you’re not scared of radiation, you might be after watching.

Hunt for Red October (1990)

Probably the most famous Tom Clancy book and certainly one of the best films, it has a star-studded cast, fronted by Sean Connery as Captain Marko Ramius with his Scottish-Russian accent, Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan, the CIA agent sent out to figure out exactly what’s happening with Red October. This is a classic Cold War thriller. “Verify range to target, one ping only.”

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Crimson Tide (1995)

Crimson Tide pitches Captain Gene Hackman against XO Denzel Washington in a tense thriller aboard USS Alabama, a ballistic missile submarine. Beset by communication problems and repeated attacks from Russian submarines, the action revolves around one simple decision: whether to launch, or not launch, the ballistic missiles.

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Hunter Killer (2018)

Hunter Killer has the advantage over some of the other sub films on this list in that it is newer, so more pacey and more action-packed. The plot doesn’t deviate too much, but without a Cold War to lean on, it’s instead a rogue faction in Russian that prompts the US into action. Gary Oldman, Gerard Butler and Toby Stephens bring the Hollywood clout, even if it’s all a little farfetched.

Writing by Chris Hall.





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