Todd Robinson’s Phantom is a movie set aboard a submarine. It implies the possibility of war and a potential haunted ship. Well, the supernatural elements of the movie are not literally in it but they seem to occur only in the mind of the submarine’s captain Demi (Ed Harris).
Phantom takes place in 1968 and Demi is back from a long assignment at sea. He is already preparing himself for retirement when his commander (Lance Henriksen) tells him that he’ll be going back to sea in less than 48 hours.
Demi is going to take the helm of the Russian fleet’s oldest submarine. The sub is his first ship as a young sailor and now he will be commanding it before it is retired for good. The turnaround is too fast that Demi has to make do with part of his crew. The rest is made up of fill-ins that the navy has rounded in the port. Among those recruit for the mission are two mysterious civilians, one of whom is Bruni (David Duchovny).
The sub has a cloaking device that allows it to avoid radar. There is also a plot made by a breakaway group that will have Demi’s submarine firing at an American ship or a Russian ship while American ships are nearby. This is to make it look like the Americans are the first to attack.
Unknown to his crew, Demi has a medical condition that causes him to see things that are not there. The audiences are left guessing what is imaginary and what is real. But the plot is too thin that viewers will not care about stuff happening in the movie.
Harris’ commanding presence is not enough to save Phantom from sinking to the bottom of the ocean. There are lots of illogical things in the movie, such as a gunfight within the submarine where people didn’t care about the possibility of making a hole in the sub.
Phantom claims to be based on actual events. But its sterling cast can’t save the movie from its overly formal dialogue and limited imagination. Viewers can’t stay completely immersed in the movie.