One of the things that you’ll see from some of the reviews of Phantom, and it’s true, is that it’s very weird to have a movie about a Russian sub in which the American actors don’t even try to pretend that they’re Russian. They speak English, and they do so without a Russian accent.
But it’s deeper than that. The characters feel more American than Russian, if that makes any sense. At one point, the character played by David Duchovny uses an American idiom that I’m not sure exists in Russian. It’s all very strange, which is kind of fitting for Phantom.
It’s not that Phantom is that bad of a movie. Sure, the acting is uneven (though Ed Harris and Duchovny do pretty well with the material) and the writing is sometimes a bit unsubtle or even clunky. But we’re not really looking for superb acting or Oscar-winning dialogue in Phantom. It’s an action/adventure movie about a Russian sub that goes rogue in the 1960s with some high-tech equipment on board.
But Phantom also isn’t a particularly good movie. I won’t tell you about the ending, because I might gag writing about it, but otherwise the plot is strong enough (if a little tired) to keep your interest for an hour and a half. And it does what a lot of movies should do, and don’t — says it was inspired by actual events, and then makes clear at the end what is true (very little) and how much is conjecture or invention (most of it). Some of the shots in the movie are event beautiful. But it’s not worth the financial investment of seeing it in theaters. Wait until it’s out of theaters and rent it when you have a couple of hours to kill.