Deep Rising (1998) – Stephen Sommers

Writer/director Stephen Sommers delivers a fun creature feature romp that, even with some dated VFX, is still a lot of fun. Treat Williams leads a cast that includes Famke Janssen, Wes Studi, Jason Flemyng, Anthony Heald, and Kevin O’Connor.

Williams plays Finnegan, a kind of Han Solo of the high seas. He and his crew will take any job, as long as the money is good, but this time, they may be in over their heads. Hired by Hanover (Studi) to transport he and his men to a remote part of the ocean, Finnegan and his crew are shocked to discover a massive luxury liner, Hanover’s target, but when they board her, the ship appears abandoned, until they find the remains of countless crew and passengers and a small group of survivors including a thief with her own agenda, Trillian (Janssen).

It seems there is something else aboard the ship, something that has killed and devoured almost everyone it could find, and now, instead of a heist/hostage/insurance situation, everyone finds themselves in a fight for their lives against what they believe is a collection of tentacled sea monsters from the depths of the ocean.

The tentacles are where the dated VFX come into effect, but the rest of the story is so much damned fun, you’re almost willing to forgive it. Williams and Janssen are fun together, as is Williams and O’Connor, there’s a real sense of fun to the dialogue and the way the characters interact.

Each of the characters has their own little quirks, and a dialogue fallback, for instance, anytime anything happens to Finnegan, he exclaims, ‘what now?!’ instead of some overly witty dialogue, it’s a real reaction, and one the viewer relates to.

There’s no real tonal shifts in the film, but it seems to delight in hinting that it may be a heist film, a monster movie, and an action romp, and it is all of those things, and it constantly throws Finnegan, Trillian and everyone else into one dangerous situation after another, while allowing Sommers to balance the action, comedic and horrific elements of the scene.

I think my only real problem ended up being with some of the advertising, because one of the film’s posters gave away the film’s climactic escape on a seadoo. But I also get that this is kind of a hard one to market. Is it an action film? A comedy? A horror?

It’s a lot of fun is what it is, and I honestly don’t know why I don’t watch this one more. I love the way this one ends, because you have to wonder what Finnegan did next and how the next few minutes played out. But that’s the fun of the film, and the world Sommers created here. It feels like a bit of an homage to films he loves, and the ending is very familiar.

Yeah, might have to rewatch this one immediately.

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