Deep Rising is a B-movie stuck in an A-movie body. Director Stephen Sommers (Jungle Book) is able to keep the campiness high and not take the film too seriously, which keeps the film from falling flat on its face.
Imagine a film about a large luxury boat sinking with thousands dead or dying. No, this is not Titanic. Nor does this film have any of the great characteristics that made Titanic so wonderful. Missing are the characters that we can latch onto or the plot to completely pull you into the film.
A group of heavily armed mercenaries is about to over take this huge luxury boat, The Argonaut. When they arrive and board the ship, they find that the ship is empty and very bloody. Not one soul can be found, not even a corpse.
The mercenaries, led by Hanover (Wes Studi), are taken out to the luxury ship by Finnegan (Treat Williams). Aboard the ship, untouched by whatever got to everyone else, is a beautiful jewel thief, Trillian (Famke Janssen). As the mercenaries, along with Finnegan and crew, search out the ship, they soon run into Trillian. Together they find that there is something horrible aboard the ship.
About halfway through the film we are introduced to the horror that is on the ship. It comes in the form of an octopus-like creature that ravaged the ship and its passengers. Now, do not imagine a common octopus that you might see at the local aquarium. This creature is huge and it is hungry. How does the creature terrorize these people? Think tentacles. Think jaws on tentacles. Think speed and deadly aim. That’s how this creature terrorizes the main characters.
Deep Rising is not a horrible movie but at points it’s a painful movie. What is most painful about the movie? Kevin J. O’Connor. His character, Joey (Finnegan’s ship mechanic), is written as the comic relief of the film but serves as the opposite. Every time he was on screen I kept mentally cheering, “Die, Joey! Die!” Part of what makes him so annoying is his voice and the other is the horrible lines that he gets. His screen time is as enjoyable as chewing aluminum foil.
I’m happy to say that everyone else fares a bit better in the film, especially Treat Williams and Framke Janssen. Both suffer from bad dialogue, but as a whole, their reputation comes out somewhat unscathed. It’s nice to see Famke Janssen again; she was introduced to us in GoldenEye as a bad Bond girl. One face that might stand out is Djimon Hounsou’s, one of the mercenaries. It’s disappointing to see Hounsou in such a mediocre and short role after seeing his wonderful performance in Amistad.
The music by Jerry Goldsmith is forgettable. At times, the score seems overly campy, which fits the movie just right. Then there are times when the score is too serious and falls out of place.
The special effects are admirable. The creature is scary enough, but director Sommers does not use it to its full potential. One special effect that disappointed was “the fireball.” When is Hollywood going to learn that it is impossible to outrun an exploding fireball?
Deep Rising’s saving grace is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. From its campy script to its over-the-top action and its cool looking creature, Deep Rising is a blast if you don’t walk into the theatre expecting too much. If you want to have some mindless fun, catch Deep Rising in the theatres.