I vividly remember watching Deep Blue Sea for the first time, just a couple of years after its release. I was so enthralled with the exciting atmosphere and juicy action that I was willing to look over some of the flaws. Flaws that were noticeable even back then. For me, this was another great action movie featuring brutal shark attacks, a very likable cast, and a great flow to the whole thing. Some of the action sequences still stand out as authentic and creative. And considering that the story is taking place in an underwater facility, it’s amazing that they pulled them off. So, if you want to see how could LL Cool J could end up cooked by a shark, you might want to check out this movie.
Directed by Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Exorcist: The Beginning), Deep Blue Sea is a definition of a nineties movie. The only thing that’s missing is some cocaine. The opening scene, with two couples turning into shark snacks, lets everyone know that they are in for a fun and entertaining ride. However, there are some elements of this movie that perhaps a bit deeper, but more about that later. I already mentioned likable characters but did I tell you they are also well-developed? Their interactions are very volatile and engaging, along with a huge shark that’s trying to eat them.
From disenchanted scientists, cool divers, smart females, and funny cooks, everyone contributed to the vibrant atmosphere. They gave it its soul, something that makes people watch it again and again. Even after more than 20 years since it has been released. Ahh, to see young and handsome Thomas Jane, one of my favorite actors, is a true treat. Alongside Samuel L. Jackson, Stellan Skarsgård, LL Cool J, and Michael SuperBoi Rapaport, Jane was a cherry on the top indeed.
A team of scientists is researching a possible cure for Alzheimer’s disease in an underwater facility. They are genetically enhancing Mako sharks, trying to activate their dormant brain cells. So far, the experiments have yielded some positive results. After an incident with one runaway shark, the financiers of this whole enterprise send Russell Franklin, corporate executive to check out how are things progressing. And progress they indeed shall…
After all these praises, it’s time for some harsh truths. First of all, CGI has not aged well and it looks pretty basic. Especially when compared with some of the recent shark movie entries. Just like this whole decade, they thought that the CGI peaked just as they were filming. They did have four mechanical sharks chomping away in a couple of scenes. However, the visuals that were supposed to be the selling point of this movie are a bit off. Additionally, decision-making was a bit wobbly.
Finally, while I think that this is a minor complaint, it’s still worth noting that those likable characters are also pretty generic. If you forgo the entertaining angle of the whole thing. This trade-off was, in my opinion, unintentional. Especially when you consider that this isn’t some brooding, serious horror about killer sharks but light entertainment. And let’s end this with a positive note. Unlike some mindless thrillers that were released around this time, where the story was secondary to cool chase scenes or action sequences, Deep Blue Sea has a very well-developed and intriguing main story.
It features a nice Lovecraftian theme where exploration and advancements in technology lead to horrible consequences. Something that fits in perfectly with the general population and their system of values. It appears that everyone would have been alive and well if only they didn’t try to steal fire from the gods. Finally, if you’re looking for more of the same, check out Rabbit Reviews list of Good Shark Movies.
Director: Renny Harlin
Writers: Duncan Kennedy, Donna Powers, Wayne Powers
Cast: Thomas Jane, Samuel L. Jackson, Stellan Skarsgård, LL Cool J, Michael Rapaport, Saffron Burrows, Jacqueline McKenzie
Fun Facts: For one scene, Thomas Jane had to swim alongside a real live shark. Of course, only after he shot all of his other scenes, just in case something happened.