Deep Blue Sea (1999)


Scientists working at a remote ocean laboratory have grown giant sharks to harvest for a protein they believe could cure Alzheimer’s disease. As they prove their theory and prepare to celebrate, though, the sharks turn on their captors and gain the upper hand. The facility begins flooding and the sharks begin feeding in this action horror movie that’s part Jaws and part Poseidon Adventure.

If Deep Blue Sea sounds dumb, that’s because it is. But ‘dumb’ doesn’t always have to mean ‘bad’. Director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger) knows how to handle this kind of action movie — by embracing the dumbness and taking the audience for a fun ride. Deep Blue Sea delivers the goods as a creature feature and a survival actioner. The visual effects are hit and miss, with early CGI shots aging poorly, but the production values are otherwise very high and the action well-choreographed. Fun casting helps bring the underwritten characters to life, with hunky Thomas Jane (The Mist) playing the bad boy shark wrangler, Saffron Burrows playing the scientist who plays God and incurs His wrath, Samuel L. Jackson as the money man visiting his investment, Michael Rapaport (True Romance) as the nervous architect, and L.L. Cool J as the preacher-turned-chef with a pet parrot. (I told you it was dumb.)

Highlights include L.L. Cool J’s mano-a-sharko standoff in a flooding kitchen and a very inspirational monologue by the esteemed Mr. Jackson (if you know, you know). As much as the movie embraces genre conventions, it’s also nice to see it buck a couple in its climax.

With Stellan Skarsgård.

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