Viking Night: Deep Blue Sea
By Bruce Hall
July 11, 2017
If your movie is going to be about mutant sharks with an insatiable lust for human flesh, be prepared for comparisons to Jaws. That is the first, and most obvious conclusion you’ll reach when I tell you that Deep Blue Sea is about mutant sharks with an insatiable lust for human flesh. It’s not completely unwarranted; every Shark vs Humans movie made from now until the end of time probably owes Peter Benchley and Steven Spielberg a credit. I’m not saying this is fair. I’m just saying it’s an uphill battle to distinguish your Humans for Breakfast for Dinner movie from everyone else’s.
And if you’re veteran director Renny Harlin, you really needed to close out the 1990s on a high note. The decade was an up and down one for Harlin, beginning with The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, possibly peaking with the (overrated) Die Hard 2 before spiraling into darkness with the hated Cutthroat Island. That’s a mixed bag if there ever was one. So, does Deep Blue Sea represent a recovery, or the soggy cherry atop someone else’s half eaten sundae?
Meh...a little of both.
Also, full disclosure - this was my first viewing ever of Deep Blue Sea, so although I’m familiar with the movie, I am writing this from the perspective of a fresh experience. Remember that as you read; this is basically Rip Van Winkle’s review of a film you’d think he would have seen before he went under.
The first thing you have to have in a film like this is an opening scene that sets the tone of the story, and gives the audience a delicious taste (pun) of the upcoming horror. Obviously, there’s no topping the opening of Jaws. So what would you do if you were Harlin, and had recently made a pretty decent action film about Sylvester Stallone hanging off the side of a mountain while John Lithgow circled in a helicopter, snarling like a badger? Well, the answer to that should be the answer to more problems, in my opinion.
Tom Jane with a harpoon gun.
While you let that bit of awesomeness sink in, let me back up a bit. Put some stupid teenagers on a boat in the middle of nowhere, and let them stand around shushing each other while a something massive beats on the bottom of their boat. Just as your mouth begins to shout “Why the fuck are you just STANDING there?!?”, the boat is in pieces, and kids are thrashing around in the water. And just as your mind is preparing itself to see chunks of attractive, young white meat floating in the water...something different happens.
Hmmm. Those kids were idiots, but aren’t they always? More important, I definitely wasn’t expecting The Punisher to pull up in a speedboat and save the day. But then...cut to a newspaper headline telling us that the shark in question had escaped from an experimental lab. This, just as Saffron Burrows (looking like she could really use a sandwich) confronts an unhappy looking Sam Jackson with the curious understatement (and the first meaningful spoken words in the film): “Okay, we’ve had some problems at the facility.”