6/10

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Runtime: 171 min

Genres: Action | Adventure | Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller

Languages: English

Countries: USA


Meticulously crafted but also ponderous and predictable, James Cameron's 1989 deep-sea close-encounter epic reaffirms one of the oldest first principles of cinema: everything moves a lot more slowly underwater. Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, as formerly married petroleum engineers who still have some "issues" to work out, are drafted to assist a gung-ho Navy SEAL (Michael Biehn) with a top-secret recovery operation: a nuclear sub has been ambushed and sunk, under mysterious circumstances, in some of the deepest waters on earth, and the petro-techies have the only submersible craft capable of diving down that far. Every image and every performance is painstakingly sharp and detailed (and the computerized water creatures are lovely) but the movie's lumbering pace is ultimately lethal. It's the audience that ends up feeling waterlogged. For a guy who likes guns as much as Cameron (his next film after all, was the body-count masterpiece Terminator 2: Judgment Day), it's interesting that the moral balance here is weighted heavily in favor of the can-do engineers; the military types are end-justifies-the-means amoralists, just like the weasely government bureaucrats in Aliens. --David Chute



Directors (1)

Writers (1)

James Cameron (written by)

Composers (1)

Editors (4)

Conrad Buff IV (as Conrad Buff)
Howard E. Smith (as Howard Smith)
Joel Goodman
Steven Quale (special edition)

Cinematographers (1)

Actors (38)

Adam Nelson Ensign Monk
Brad Sullivan Executive
Captain Kidd Brewer Jr. Lew Finler (as Capt. Kidd Brewer Jr.)
Chris Anastasio Truck Driver
Chris Elliott Bendix
Christopher Murphy Schoenick
Daren Dochterman News Reporter (uncredited)
Dick Warlock Dwight Perry (as Richard Warlock)
Ed Harris Virgil 'Bud' Brigman
Emily Yancy Woman Reporter
Frank Lloyd Navigator
George Robert Klek Wilhite
J. Kenneth Campbell DeMarco
J.C. Quinn 'Sonny' Dawson
Jimmie Ray Weeks Leland McBride
Joe Farago Anchorman
John Bedford Lloyd Jammer Willis
Joseph C. Nemec III Crew Members (as Joseph Nemec III)
Ken Jenkins Gerard Kirkhill
Kimberly Scott Lisa 'One Night' Standing
Leo Burmester Catfish De Vries
Marcus K. Mukai Anchorman #2 (as Marcus Mukai)
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio Lindsey Brigman
Michael Beach Barnes
Michael Biehn Lt. Hiram Coffey
Michael Chapman Dr. Berg
Mike Cameron Sailor with the Fire Extinguisher (uncredited)
Mikhail Gorbachev Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Paula Cross Young Woman
Peter Ratray Captain
Phillip Darlington Crew Members
Randy Robertson Russian Sailer On Dock (uncredited)
Robert Searle Tommy Ray Dietz (uncredited)
Thomas F. Duffy Construction Worker (as Thomas Duffy)
Todd Graff Alan 'Hippy' Carnes
Tom Isbell Wave Reporter
Wendy Gordon Anchorwoman
William Wisher Jr. Bill Tyler (as William Wisher)