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Russia Halts Release of U.S. Action Film

‘Hunter Killer’ also fighting for release in Ukraine after censors say it glamorizes Russia.

5 November 2018

In the new Hollywood film Hunter Killer, a team of U.S. Navy Seals pulls off a desperate operation to rescue the Russian president from his power-crazed defense chief as the two superpowers stand toe to toe on the brink of disaster.


Although the president is portrayed with some sympathy, as the reviewers are saying, its Russian premiere was delayed at the last minute, perhaps because of its content, The Hollywood Reporter writes.



While according to Variety, the Russian president in the movie does not resemble the real-life Vladimir Putin, instead appearing as a more diplomatic figure, the BBC writes that in a Facebook post Russian politician Dmitry Gudkov said that “Moscow was not keen” on the plot of the film, as it could possibly undermine Putin’s masculine image.         


Variety dubs the film, which stars Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman, a “Cold War nostalgia movie,” with the plot revolving around a Russian coup attempt as U.S. and Russian submarines engage in a game of undersea hide and seek.


The Russian distributor said the film was unable to acquire a screening license from the Culture Ministry because of missing documents , although the ministry had previously made no objections to the film, the BBC reports.


According to Reuters, the ministry told Russian media that the screening was delayed because a “satisfactory copy” had not been submitted to the state film archive on time.


The film also ran into problems in Ukraine, not a country with any great liking for Russian presidents. The Ukrainian Culture Ministry justified its decision against granting a screening license by citing a law banning films depicting "the military power of Russia,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.



  • Russia’s Culture Ministry blocked the release of “The Death of Stalin” earlier this year after conservative politicians expressed dismay and disgust over the jet-black satire. An adviser to the ministry said the film contained aspects of “ideological warfare.”


  • Hunter Killer has garnered a few halfway decent reviews. “It plays like a nostalgic fairy tale. And it’s a fairly exciting one, despite being largely predictable and occasionally ridiculous,” Vulture writes.


  • The Russian leader in the film may be nothing like Putin, but his American counterpart “is transparently modelled on Hillary Clinton” – which does not help add plausibility, Variety says.

Compiled by Orsolya Liddiard

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