Deep Blue Sea (1999) – A Review


A review of the 1999 shark horror thriller Deep Blue Sea starring Thomas Jane, Saffron. L.L. Cool J, Michael Rapport and Samuel L. Jackson

Deep Blue Sea 1999 shark movie

A floating research facility is the locale where scientists are trying to search for a cure for Alzheimer’s. Dr. Susan McCallister (Saffron Burrows) believes the key to it lies in an unlikely place – sharks.

Her team of brains and shark wrangler Carter Blake (Thomas Jane) are hard at work when billionaire Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson) decides to pay them a visit to see how all his money is being spent. He learns Blake has been playing a bit of Dr. Frankenstein with her teethy fish. The team has been genetically engineering the sharks brains in order for them to produce more enzymes they need for their experiments. However, this causes a deadly side effect in them by making them smarter!

When an ill-timed hurricane hits the facility the sharks decide it’s time to show their displeasure of being cooped up in cages. As the facility begins to sink these brainy sharks decide to get some pay back on their captors, attempt to open the gates and head out for the open ocean. Will the humans survive this plan the sharks have to eat and run?

Directed by Renny Harlin Deep Blue Sea is a silly shark movie with an even sillier B-movie premise that ends up being adequate dumb fun. This isn’t high art, it doesn’t have lofty goals other than to provide fun shark attack scenes for viewers. And for the most part it delivers on that.

Deep Blue Sea 1999 Samuel Jackson Thomas Jane castThe predicaments the characters get themselves into change up enough that once they each end and it spells the demise for another character I just wanted to move onto the next scene to see how the next person will get dined on. And that’s pretty much what the movie does once things get rolling.

The good thing about Deep Blue Sea is it doesn’t waste much time creating complex characters and relationships. Harlin knows we want to see the sharks, so he keeps the obligatory introductions and establishing his cast to a minimum.

Russell is a millionaire with a bit of an adventurous background. Carter has a criminal past. Susan has personal reasons as to why she wants to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. And we don’t have to worry about her and Carter getting mushy. Their tense relationship won’t get solved with some kisses.

L.L. Cool J’s cook provides some comedy relief with his little parrot flying around and actually he ends up being the most likable character in this. He gets one of the best, most ridiculous shark attack scenes in a kitchen where his only refuge is hiding in an oven!

The CGI effects are not the best. At times they resemble something we’d be watching and laughing at on a Syfy channel movie today. It’s funny seeing some of these shoddy CGI effects from the 90’s now. It’s like when they happen they’re the most unconvincing moments and they leap out at you, but I guess at the time filmmakers thought the effects were good enough and maybe audiences would buy them.

Deep Blue Sea 1999 shark movie Thomas Jane
Thomas Jane

The animatronic sharks are much more effective. They look real and dangerous. The miniatures of the facility are very impressive. During the hurricane sequence with a helicopter getting tossed around with waves of of water and explosions I couldn’t tell what shots were done for real and what were models.

One of the most memorable moments is one character having one of the most unexpected death scenes in a shark movie. I think that particular death has been voted as one of the greatest on-screen deaths in all of movies by some folks. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it is amusing.

There’s definitely logic-leaps that are happening all over this story, some of the characters are just aching for you to see get torn up and the parrot is stupid, but Harlin creates a few fun suspenseful shark scenes in the sinking facility and that’s what this movie is about. It’s just dopey fun.


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