Watch This: Kathryn Bigelow’s submarine thriller deserved better than a box-office tanking

Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by the week’s new releases or premieres. This week: About a year ago, we singled out some of our favorite unloved summer blockbusters. With the event-movie season upon us again, it’s time for the sequel.

K19: The Widowmaker (2002)

Though it sank like a stone—or a doomed Russian submarine, if you like—at the box office, Kathryn Bigelow’s based-on-real-events K-19: The Widowmaker remains an undervalued and gripping addition to the deep-sea subgenre. Proficiently scripted by Christopher Kyle, Bigelow’s thriller functions like three related films in one. The first describes the famed Russian sub’s 1961 exercise to test a nuclear warhead in order to scare the Americans into not firing on Moscow. The second goes into ensuing efforts to seal a reactor leak before it destroys the vessel. In the third, the leak reappears, resulting in a …

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