Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Review: "Deep Blue Sea" is a Good Shark Movie (Happy B'day, LL Cool J)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 30 (of 2002) by Leroy Douresseaux

Deep Blue Sea (1999)
Running time:  105 minutes (1 hour, 45 minutes)
MPAA – R for graphic shark attacks, and for language
DIRECTOR:  Renny Harlin
WRITERS:  Duncan Kennedy, Donna Powers, and Wayne Powers
PRODUCERS:  Akiva Goldsman, Tony Ludwig, Don MacBain, and Alan Riche
EDITORS:  Derek G. Brechin, Dallas S. Puett, and Frank J. Urioste
COMPOSER:  Trevor Rabin


Starring:  Thomas Jane, Saffron Burrows, LL Cool J, Michael Rapaport, Stellan Skarsgård, Jacqueline McKenzie, Aida Turturro, and Samuel L. Jackson

The subject of this movie review is Deep Blue Sea, a 1999 science fiction thriller and horror film from director Renny Harlin.  The film takes place on an isolated, sea-based research facility where a group of scientists find themselves being hunted by a trio of intelligent sharks.

On an isolated underwater research facility, a group of scientists search for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease using Mako sharks.  Dr. Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows) and Jim Whitlock (Stellan Skarsgard) have illegally used genetic engineering to make the sharks’ brains bigger.  When Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson), the businessman who funds the disease research, arrives at the facility, the sharks are already bigger, faster, and more aggressive.

During a severe storm, the scientists celebrate their success.  However, the intelligent sharks take advantage of the storm to make an attack upon the facility that causes it to begin sinking.  A shark wrangler, Carter Blake (Thomas Jane), and the facility’s cook, Preacher (James T. Smith/LL Cool J), lead a group of survivors in a race to reach the surface while the facility quickly floods.  The sharks also gain entrance to the facility and hunt the fleeing humans.

Directed by Renny Harlin (Cliffhanger, The Long Kiss Goodnight), Deep Blue Sea is a cat and mouse game in which the characters run an obstacle course to save their lives.  Harlin and the film’s writers continually drop trouble in the lap of the cast, who must use every resource at hand to save themselves.  Deep Blue Sea is not Jaws.  While the latter remains a powerful suspense thriller, the former is a quite effective edge-of-your-seat action movie.  Harlin has a knack for taking what could have been only pedestrian material and making good, light entertainment.

The cast is quite good, and LL Cool J adds a touch of humor to the film as Preacher.  Thomas Jane’s Blake and Cool J’s Preacher are the characters with whom we identify and attach ourselves.  One is the stoic, tough action guy and the other is funny man who keeps the show from getting too serious.  Samuel L Jackson is once again the actor who brings an air of seriousness in a performance that is quite good and that sets the tone for the film.  Much of the cast is shark fodder, but each one is determined to give a solid performance.  Deep Blue Sea is quite a bit of fun and stands up to repeated viewings.  It won’t be remembered as a cinematic classic, but it is a good time.  Quite a few action films try to be that and fail, but Deep Blue Sea delivers.

6 of 10

2000 Image Awards:  1 nomination:  “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture” (LL Cool J)

Updated:  Tuesday, January 14, 2014

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