Crimson Tide



War Games in the water; older teens and up.
  • Review Date: July 27, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1995
  • Running Time: 116 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

People of diverse backgrounds are treated well; one gay joke and two jokes about girls and women's bodies.


Implied violence of nuclear war, many characters are threatened with guns. Some graphic deaths. A group of sailors are sealed in a flooding area of the sub to save the rest of the ship. One character has a heart attack.

Not applicable

The characters curse like the sailors they are.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters smoke cigars and cigarettes regularly.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that characters use profanity and make a few derogatory comments toward women and girls. The suspense in the film may make it too frightening for more sensitive viewers. Some of the younger characters die, occasionally graphically, and many characters carry guns. One character holds a gun to the head of two different men during a standoff. The film deals with war and violence.

What's the story?

In 1995, as the story goes, a Chechen rebel takes over part of the country, gains access to nuclear weapons and submarines, and makes threats that even hardened submarine captain Frank Ramsey (Gene Hackman) believes he'll back up with fire power. When the rebel is believed to have the access codes to fire those nuclear weapons, Ramsey, his crew and new Lt. Commander Ron Hunter (Denzel Washington) board the USS Alabama and engage the enemy. When the sub loses radio contact, the crew must decide: Does it fire nuclear weapons, or wait? That fight becomes physical as mutiny breaks out, guns come out, and sailors nearly lose their lives.

Is it any good?


With an all-star cast and a compelling subject -- nuclear war with an unpredictable adversary -- CRIMSON TIDE is worthy viewing for any teen considering joining the military. When the film was released in 1995, filmmaker Tony Scott couldn't have known terrorists would attack the U.S. and the whole country would be on high alert. This film channels those anxieties into dramatic fare that's sure to be remembered even if the suspense is sometimes hard to sit through. All the bells, whistles, red lighting, and operatic scores may be enough to keep most teens entertained, and some may delight in recognizing their favorite Soprano, James Gandolfini, as Lt. Bobby Dougherty. Likewise, they'll recognize Lt. Peter 'WEAPS' Ince as Lord of the Rings' Viggo Mortensen and even Chicken Little's Steve Zahn.

Still, teens may roll their eyes at the more talky parts. Indeed, some things don't translate. Kids growing up in the age of suicide bombers may not understand the grip the threat of nuclear war held on this country in the 1980s. And they are unlikely to relate to the bigger coming-of-age drama within the film -- that of diplomatic and quietly charismatic Hunter succeeding Ramsey's brute strength. Teens and parents may not be able to help themselves from asking which approach to war prevails today, and which they support. But for those interested in the reason for wars there's plenty of fodder. The film starts with jocular questioning of whether the U.S. should have dropped the bomb on Japan in World War II. Later, Hunter explains his view of war: "The purpose of war is to serve a political end, but the true nature of war is to serve itself. In a nuclear world, a true enemy can't be destroyed. In a nuclear world," viewers are told, "the true enemy is war itself."

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about current events. Parents may want to use the film as an opportunity to talk about the political unrest in Chechnya, Russia. They may also want to discuss how nuclear war against a country is different from fighting terrorism. How does the DVD make you feel about your country? Do the depictions of war correspond to stories from friends and family in the military? How do you express your sentiments about war? Do you respectfully disagree or try to intimidate and bully?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 12, 1995
DVD release date:September 7, 2004
Cast:Denzel Washington, Gene Hackman, Viggo Mortensen
Director:Tony Scott
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Run time:116 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong language

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Teen, 14 years old Written bysasuke the awsome April 10, 2013

Now, get off my bridge capt'n.

Okay... Well, first of all, this is an aptly named movie. The seas really do run red in Tony Scott's underwater masterpiece. This movie doesn't have any sort of widespread carnage or devastation like some movies, nor the battle scenes of the Pirates movies which (just like this film) Bruckheimer produced, though he also directed. What it does have however is something much more realistic and brutal. It has the constant thread of impending nuclear destruction which could wipe the world of mankind. I agree with Commonsensemedia when they say that many kids this day won't really be able to connect with that. I mean, sure, there's always that lingering threat that someone might do something but nothing like the terror of 1962 with the Cuban Missile Crisis and then the movie basis of the 1980's. And I suppose that's a tad hypocritical because of course, I wasn't alive then either. It still feels a bit relatable to me, not exactly sure why, maybe just 'cause I've studied that time period though I can't really know what it felt like. Anywho, this movie has that and it also has some intense confrontation scenes and one particular part which shocked me with it's intensity. I'd hate to spoil it for anyone but for those who have seen the movie, it's the "hatch-closing or opening" scene. And of course there is other violence but that's the main content. And yes they do swear just (in the words of this website) "like the sailors they are". Yes, alcohol is consumed but please don't make this the deciding factor whether to see this film or to let your kids see it. It's an incredible film and definitely one of my favorite movies ever. It's a film that will have you riveted to the screen, waiting for that moment where the fate of the world is decided. All it takes is the turn of a key. "Capt. Ramsey: Short of the outbreak of World War Three, the ship sinking... being attacked by a giant octopus, I'd like to be undisturbed for the next thirty minutes. Hunter: I'll see to it sir."
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written bydavyborn May 31, 2012

Lot's of tension and special effects in taut 90's thriller

Tony Scott's 1995 box office summer blockbuster is best known for it's tense confrontations between acting heavyweights Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman, and I think that this is rightfully so. Now, aside from the stellar acting and cast, Crimson Tide also has strong production values, special effects and some almost gaggingly intense and breathtaking action sequences which still leaves viewers on the edge of there seat to this day, but, what Crimson Tide does the best is with the tense mutiny aboard a submarine that is hired to take care of a nuclear threat, and that the apparently crazed captain (Gene Hackman), is attempting to launch them out into the world, which of course, isn't good. So, it is up to co-commanding officer Denzel Washington to stop him, and, if that means starting a ship-wide mutiny in the progress, than so beat it. Now, the weakest element of the Crimson Tide, though, would of course be the story. Sure, the nuclear threat is all very real and effective, but the real substance in this movie is watching Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman go at it and square off against each other, which really creates a viable thriller for the decade of the 1990's. Now, even though the film is Rated R, it isn't nearly as offensive as most R Rated movies are these days, but, alas, here we go: There is frequent but fairly tame action sequences, including the submarine being submerged in water, and the threat of mass drowning aboard the ship, mutiny and some seriously intense arguments between the main leads. And, finally, there is frequent strong profanity throughout the movie, which is the main reason why the movie was Rated R in the first place; with many uses each of f--k, sh-t, a--h-le, g-dd-mn, d-mn, h-ll and b-llsh-t. So, even though the film hasn't aged as well as it could, Crimson Tide is still just as effective as it was when it first originally came out into theaters of the summer of 1995.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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