American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
The movies have one sure way of involving us that never fails.
They give us a character who is right when everybody else is wrong and then invite us to share his frustration as he tries to talk some sense into the blockheads. In "The Hunt for Red October," that character is Jack Ryan, the intelligence man who believes he knows the real reason why a renegade Soviet skipper is trying to run away with a submarine.
The skipper's name is Ramius, and he is the most respected man in the Soviet underwater navy. He has trained most of the other captains in the fleet, and now he has been given the controls of an advanced new submarine named Red October - a sub that uses a revolutionary new drive that is faster than any other ship beneath the waves and almost completely silent. American intelligence tracks the Red October as it leaves its Soviet shipyard, but then the sub seems to disappear. Soon after, the entire Soviet navy mobilizes itself into a vast cat-and-mouse game in the North Atlantic.
The Soviets would like their American counterparts to believe that Ramius is a madman who wants to hide his sub off the American coast and aim its nuclear missiles at New York or Washington. They ask the U.S. Navy to help them track and destroy the Red October. But Ryan (Alec Baldwin) believes that would be a tragic mistake. He tells his superior, an admiral played by James Earl Jones, that Ramius is actually trying to defect and to bring his submarine along with him.