Aquatica, a submerged lab wherein, away from unnecessary interference, Dr. Susan McCallister and her team are conducting experiments on Mako sharks. Harvesting brain proteins in an attempt to develop a cure for Alzheimer’s. But these denizens of the deep are different, genetically altered with increased intelligence and they have their own agenda. They are hungry, and man is on the menu.
Jaws was the daddy, the definitive shark movie, to such an extent that rarely have other filmmakers successfully ventured into shark-infested seas since. Sensibly Deep Blue Sea navigates very different waters to Spielberg’s classic. It’s an old-fashioned monster movie focusing on scientists playing god with predictably disastrous consequences, and as such comparisons can be drawn between another Steven Spielberg film, Jurassic Park. Although Renny Harlin, a director famed for unpretentious crowd-pleasing films such as Cliffhanger and The Long Kiss Goodnight, doesn’t spend much time on character development. Instead he goes for the jugular, employing the minimum amount of plot setup to get to the real meat of the movie, sharks eating people.
The tone is established early on with shark wrangler Carter Blake (Thomas Jane) swimming alongside a recently captured tigershark, flipping over it, catching a ride on its fin and wrestling a licence plate from its mouth. Ridiculous? Totally, and audiences will either buckle up for a fun ride or start groaning at the implausibility factor. The cast seem to take the former approach with Jane, Samuel L. Jackson and LL Cool J all getting into the spirit of things, the least said about Saffron Burrows’ wooden performance the better. These characters are placed in a well-realised and claustrophobic environment, at the mercy of the stars of the show, the killer sharks. They are the real leads, convincingly brought to the screen in all their man-eating glory through a mix of CG and impressive animatronics. They entertainingly chomp their way through the cast, picking them off inventively and in a less predictable order than usual for this type of film.
A stylish and agreeably gory slice of B-movie fun Deep Blue Sea delivers on its premise with Renny Harlin aiming and for the most part hitting all the right genre targets. This may not be a cinematic classic like Jaws but if you want to see super intelligent sharks devouring people, and who doesn’t, then this is the film for you.