Hunter Killer

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Hunter Killer Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Violence, language in passable military/submarine thriller.
  • R
  • 2018
  • 121 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

It's important to put differences aside, trust one another, work together toward common goal. Honor, teamwork, loyalty are generally celebrated, rewarded.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Soldier characters are generally well-represented, respectful. Even the supposedly rebellious lead character, Joe Glass, seems to make the right decisions based on what he thinks is right. Only one notable female character.


Extremely strong battle violence with lots and lots of guns and shooting, high-powered missiles and torpedoes, explosions. Many dead bodies are shown. Bloody wounds and injuries. Lots of arguing. Bow and arrow shown.


Fairly strong language, with uses of "f---ing," "p---y," "a--hole," "son of a bitch," "ass," "hell," "damn," and "goddamn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Background smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hunter Killer is a thriller involving submarines, Navy SEALs, and Russians; it's based on a 2012 novel by George Wallace and Don Keith. The biggest issue is violence: You can expect lots and lots of battle action, with guns and shooting, high-powered missiles and torpedoes, bloody wounds and injuries, and dead bodies. Language is also strong, with many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "son of a bitch," "p---y," and more, and there's some background smoking. On the other hand, sex and consumerism aren't issues. The movie starts stiffly and seems like it's going to be another not-too-good Gerard Butler movie, but it eventually begins to work in a passably entertaining way, and it's clear that teamwork is important to the characters and their story.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySpings March 20, 2021

Solid Thriller With Good Themes

Not sure at all why some people don't like this movie as a taut thriller with good themes.
Adult Written bygMatt November 30, 2020

One of the best modern war thrillers available

scenes without too much violence and fiction, very good characters, good plot as if emerged from the Kursk tragedy, its a good movie for grownups and adults
Teen, 13 years old Written byGamer06 November 30, 2019

Intense submarine movie has violence, blood.

In Hunter Killer, an American sub is sent to investigate the disappearance of another American sub. One thing leads to another, and the crew soon find themselve... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old February 1, 2019

Outstanding action thriller! Please do not miss this!

The whole movie was a mix of suspence, action, thrills, and so much more. I really enjoyed it. It has an understandable amount of violence for a PG-13, and the... Continue reading

What's the story?

In HUNTER KILLER, an American submarine is torpedoed near Russia, and unorthodox, street-smart Captain Joe Glass (Gerard Butler) is called in to investigate. He discovers that a nearby Russian sub has been sabotaged, and he chooses to rescue its captain (Michael Nyqvist) from the ocean floor. Meanwhile, a team of U.S. Navy SEALs uncovers a coup within the Russian government: A rogue general has locked up the president (Alexander Diachenko) and taken over. The SEALs successfully snatch the president, while Glass must trust the Russian captain to help navigate the treacherous waters to get to the rendezvous point. But can the Americans and the loyal Russians trust each other long enough to prevent the bad guys from starting another world war?

Is it any good?

This military thriller starts stiffly, and not everyone seems fully committed, but as the pieces come together, it becomes a passably tense entertainment for fans of huge explosions. Based on a novel by George Wallace and Don Keith and directed by Donovan Marsh, Hunter Killer kicks off with thick, clunky military dialogue and many cookie-cutter scenes, especially the ones that establish Butler as a rebellious outsider (he never went to Annapolis, he's first seen hunting with a bow and arrow, etc.). Actors like Common and Gary Oldman appear uncomfortable at best, and it looks for a while as if Butler forced everyone at gunpoint to help make this movie.

But, surprisingly, Hunter Killer eventually turns into a multi-character piece, with many moving parts; Butler is, happily, not the center of everything. The story allows Marsh to logically cut back and forth to several locations, and the breaks effectively boost the storytelling style; it builds suspense. Best of all, the movie becomes less focused on specific military-type relationships and concentrates instead on simpler, more universal bonds of loyalty and teamwork. Characters seem to behave in the best interests of their comrades, rather than at the service of the plot. The wonderful Linda Cardellini has virtually the only female role, looking tense inside a situation room, and she seems to relish the opportunity. Yet Hunter Killer is also overrun with gunfire and explosions. It's hardly a classic, but it should satisfy a reasonable number of sub thriller fans.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Hunter Killer's violence. How intense is it? Do you think it's intended to be shocking? Scary? Thrilling? How can you tell? How does the movie achieve this effect?

  • How is teamwork shown in the movie? What's the difference between teamwork and loyalty?

  • What's the appeal of submarine movies? How does this one compare to others you've seen?

  • Do you think movies about the military should always show soldiers and servicepeople in a positive light? Why or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action and thrills

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate