I was going to wait a little longer before diving in with the sharks but Deep Blue Sea has all the aquatic monster vibes we need for this review. This flick has mad scientists, rabid monsters, and a Poseidon Adventure meets Jaws theme. The cast was filled by man of the moment Thomas Jane, then character man Stellan Skarsgard, 90’s quirky guy Michael Rapaport, and for mega stardom Samuel L. Jackson. Coming off hits like Jacky Brown, Pulp Fiction, and The Phantom Menace Jackson green-lights this movie and offers a box office draw. Further, Deep Blue Sea happened in time to act as a vehicle for LL Cool J’s movie career.
Relatively unknown actress Saffron Burrows plays the lead doctor messing with these shark’s minds. Interestingly enough the choice was made to go with Mako sharks which have a distinct look. Sleek and just reminiscent enough of great whites the sharks didn’t need to be giant to strike fear. Saffron accompanied by Stellan have been genetically tampering with the brains of Mako sharks. Why? Well here is where the waters get murky. They want to end Alzheimer’s and believe the key lay with one of the oldest living creatures. Some science happens here to explain why it was worth breaking laws of nature. Apart from the benefits to man it made sense to use sharks as they have not had to evolve in millions of years. They just kill and eat and survive.
Ok. I’m hooked on the science now give me some action. The movie opens by letting you see one of the three sharks attack a yacht full of drunk kids. No waiting or masking the big reveal. We are dealing with sharks and this movie is going to show them. Tom Jane, resident badass, wrangles the escaped shark and returns it to Aquatica, the undersea laboratory. Jackson soon arrives as the millionaire bankrolling the lab to decide if he should pull funding or not. There are some perfunctory “the man” remarks given they fear he will put them out of a job. Once they get below deck, all hell breaks loose. Naturally the sedated shark awakes in time to bite off Skarsgard’s arm and force an evac in the midst of a hurricane. He is helicoptered out or so we believe until a spec moves closer and closer to the oversized submerged glass window overlooking the shark pen. The sharks use him as a battering ram to break into the facility.
Once inside it’s a series of hatches and flooding corridors. The momentum is quick and the tension is high. Separated from the crew, Mr. Cool J plays the religious cook confused and worried by the thunderous rumblings around him. He banters with his foulmouthed parrot until the little bird is swallowed and he is forced into his own oven. With gas seeping into the kitchen he escapes only to ignite a lunging shark and flea into a water-filled hallway.
While you watch you will ask yourself if you would stay hidden or brave the sunken tunnel system knowing there are monsters lurking out there.
The rest of the cast is heading down as they are blocked from climbing up. At the base of Aquatica is a two-man sub and a hatch large enough to launch. Before they get to the basement level they stop at the partially flooded living quarters where made scientist saffron slips away alone to retrieve her records. No need for science to suffer even if everyone could die horribly in its wake. Once there we get a few cheap scares (I’ll leave you to jump at those) then the real threat emerges, shark number two. After much thrashing and some question as to how she survives Saffron ends up standing on a bookshelf. Stripping off her rubber swimsuit and using it as grounding Saffron rips a wire off the wall and beckons the shark. In true Jaws 2 fashion the Mako bites right down and zaps itself. Down to one shark they reach the basement.
Sam Jackson now has to rally the spirits of a depressed group of survivors with a story from a plotline that was contrived solely for this moment. Sadly, he stands a bit too close to the open hatch as he delivers this speech.
Without spoilers this movie goes on another thirty minutes from that moment and it is harrowing. The final moments offer a unique ending that packs a bite. I say it’s well worth your time.
Stay Glued to the Screen