Film Review: Deep Blue Sea

Deep Blue SeaDeep Blue Sea is a 1999 film by Warner Bros. directed by Renny Harlin and starring Saffron Burrows, Thomas Jane, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Rapaport, and LL Cool J. It was written by Duncan Kenny and Donna/Wayne Powers.

Scientists are playing with shark DNA again, this time hoping to use their research to help treat Alzheimer’s patients by reactivating dormant brain cells. During their testing, one of their shark subjects escapes their underwater facility and attacks a boat, killing the passengers. This prompts the research board to send someone to the facility, Russell (Samuel L. Jackson) to evaluate the facility and its team.

After he arrives, he learns that the research team’s main scientists, Susan and Jim, have been modifying the brain tissue of sharks in order to produce a protein key to their research. Unfortunately, this protein not only increases the size of the shark’s brains but also makes them smarter and more aggressive. When a sedated shark awakens in an enclosure, it wreaks havoc, eventually killing several members of the facility as well as causing major explosions and malfunctions that threaten its continued operation.

The surviving members of the team make their way to a pressurized pool, only to have the shark appear, forcing them to depressurize the area and escape into an elevator shaft which causes the entire below-the-surface areas to depressurize and other areas to flood. In another area of the facility, Sherman (LL Cool J) is being stalked by another shark in a partially-flooded kitchen galley where he ultimately manages to kill it.

Sherman meets up with the rest of the team, but they are found by several other sharks in their attempts to get out of the facility and to the surface. In a latch-ditch effort to escape, they realize the sharks had actually planned their attacks in order to get the team to flood the facility so they could escape into the sea. In the end, four sharks are killed along with nine members of the research team and one parrot.

At a budget of $60 million, this is easily the highest-budget shark movie I have reviewed for this website, and the production value really shows. It is also the most “mainstream” or dare I say “mainsea” films I have watched, as many of the infamous Shark Week films are expected to be the campy releases. Not so with this gem from Warner Bros.

The film lives up to the hype and is a fun underwater adventure. In fact, many consider this one of the “great” shark movies, trailing behind Jaws, of course. LL Cool J was in top form as Preacher, even as his kitchen scene mimicked that of the visitor’s center in Jurassic Park. Samuel L Jackson also gave a strong performance as the funding representative, although his demise bordered on comical rather than horrific.

I vaguely remember watching this in the 90s when I worked for Warner Bros., but revisiting it after all these years was a fun adventure all over again. It was especially fun to see Stellan Skarsgard in a role other than a Marvel one since I completely forgot he was in the film.

This will probably be my highest-rated shark-related film for quite a while.

You can find it streaming on HBO Max, or for purchase on Amazon Prime Video and on YouTube.

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