John McTiernan | The Hunt for Red October | The 13th Warrior

Classic Film and Television Home Page

John McTiernan

John McTiernan is a Hollywood film director.

Some common subjects in the films of John McTiernan:


The Hunt for Red October

Lithuanian Submarine captain Sean Connery defects with the Soviet's latest high tech sub. (This is much better casting than us Lithuanians usually get. The last major Lithuanian character in a film or TV show was Squiggy on "Laverne and Shirley".)

As usual, McTiernan emphasizes humor, character and drama over violence. The plot is constructed on similar lines as Die Hard. In that film, the plot turned on the radio contact between Bruce Willis' character within the skyscraper, and Reginald Valjohnson without. Their relationship formed the human basis for the film. In The Hunt for Red October, the film's key scene is the one where CIA analyst Alec Baldwin suddenly intuits what Connery is up to. Baldwin becomes the only one on the American side who understands and connects with Connery, and the plot turns on his ever more heroic attempts to get others to share in his leap of faith. The scene where Baldwin sees into another human being's soul is profoundly moving, and so is the film's picture of the triumph of this human insight over all worldly interests and political considerations.


The 13th Warrior

The 13th Warrior (1998) shows the same warm feelings of brotherhood as McTiernan's earlier films. As in The Hunt For Red October, the brotherhood extends across racial and national lines. It requires a leap by the hero, to get him to understand and join up with men from another nation and group. This involves deep feeling. The feeling is partly one of universal brotherhood, and partly of male bonding with a very specific group of men.

In both films, the hero wears uniforms that are both similar to and different from those of the other nation. In October, the hero is in a dress blue US Naval uniform, whereas the men on the other sub are in Soviet naval uniforms. Their clothes are similarly dress blue. In Warrior, the hero is in iron chain mail, whereas the Norsemen are in shiny armor. Their armor is made of broad pieces of metal, not chain mail like the hero's. Both costumes are equally spectacular. All the men in both films are dressed up to the max.

Many of McTiernan's films involve the protagonists moving through a complex environment, one with many paths:

McTiernan likes suspense sequences when the heroes have to stay silent: Both The 13th Warrior and The Hunt for Red October have a hero who writes. It is an important part of his characterization. Both write using pens on paper in front of them - personal notes. Both men are thinkers.

Both films also have similar, well-done finales. These show the hero quiet, alone, on a vehicle taking him away from the scene of action in the story. Both finales sum up the changes in the hero's character caused by the events of the story.