A drunk, epileptic, veteran captain gets command of a rather special sub, the last diesel-driven sub in the Russian fleet. That's how it starts, simple - but when a couple of mysterious passengers appear on the dock as they're about to depart, and even more so when the commander and old friend of the recently mentioned captain shoots himself in the head as they set sail err... engines, you know there's something about to go terribly wrong.
It starts off as a reconnaissance mission, but soon it's about starting a war. The crew is divided in fractions, the captain has dreams or hallucinations, gets an epileptic attack, sees grotesque visions that might be past or future, or neither, it's not certain... and for a while I was expecting it to turn to horror, to gore and terror, but that's not the turn it takes. You never do see the twists coming, but do they ever... and why do all submarine movies have to be so... sad?!
The phantom itself (from which the title is derived) is a morphing device, a device of camouflage that lets a submarine pass as any other submarine, as any nationality and any size. It's a brand new technology to be used in what is originally planned to be a test run, but... yeah you already know things don't go as they should.
One interesting thing about this movie is how the actors are all American, playing roles of Russians, about to launch an attack on Americans. It's an internal feud seen from the other side, so to speak, with good result. The actors all do a great job, and I recognize plenty of them though I haven't memorized their names. Good movie.
rated 3/5: not bad