K-19 impressively begins with one of the least promising starts I recall from any film. It's perhaps a testament to the spirit of the crew that, some 80 minutes in, when we know what the film is, it becomes watchable. This is after ditching the tired sports genre format for a bleaker tone, and it's surely one of the stranger topics to make an inspirational Boys Own film out of. None of this appeals on paper.
my favorite bigelow films concern the otherness of violence. in "near dark" and "the hurt locker," violence and death go into beyond-good-and-evil territory - there's a neutrality to them that i find hypnotic. bigelow is also big on hero-worship. here, it fits a classic hollywood-mould that's less annoying than the covert patriotism of "zero dark thirty," but the self-conscious bravery pulls me back to the familiar.