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The Wolf’s Call is to dive for

13 December, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

François Civil and Paula Beer in The Wolf’s Call

THE WOLF’S CALL
Directed by Antonin Baudry
Certificate 15
☆☆☆☆

THIS French-made thriller tells the story of a naval crew who are faced with the conflict between following orders and following their consciences.

Part Dr Strangelove, part The Hunt For The Red October, director Antonin Baudry takes the viewer into murky depths as the film considers duties, responsibilities and morals – all set against a backdrop of an international incident that could lead to nuclear war.

Chanteraide – or Socks, as his crew mates call him after he spent a three-month tour of duty under water padding about without any shoes – has a unique skill.

His hearing is particularly acute, and his role in the French Navy is to listen intently to sounds under water and try to interpret what is out there. He can identify types of ships and submarines, all manner of sea life – and is a crucial set of eyes and ears for the captain.

We meet Chanteraide (François Civil) and his skippers D’Orsi (Omar Sy) and Grandchamp (Reda Kateb) as they lurk off the Syrian coast, waiting to pick up an elite team of commandos on a mission in the war-torn country.

The tension is loaded from the off, helped by the fact submarine films have such simple tools to play with – our fear of the deep and the unknown, our fear of drowning, and the sense of intense claustrophobia. Baudry doesn’t muck about – from the opening moments, he ladles it on.

After the sub returns from the Gulf, Chanteraide is debriefed by his seniors – and questioned over how he identified a mystery sub, with four propellers, stalking his vessel. It is the plot twist that kick starts a terrific post-Cold War yarn.

Chanteraide is informed that somewhere out there is a Russian sub, apparently armed with a nuclear missile – and apparently this sub has launched its weapon of mass murder and it’s heading towards France…

But is the attack all it seems? And once you’ve given orders to press the nuclear button, how do you countermand such commands?

The Wolf’s Call has excellent, believable performances, and enough of a budget to make the sub scenes feel authentic.

At its heart is the idea that the nuclear deterrent is a worthless tool to own – something that won’t deter new threats, won’t help stabilise international relations by the promise of assured mutual destruction.

Instead, it has no sway with threats of violence from terrorist groups, and opens up the option of a terrible, deadly, genocidal mistake being made.

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