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DEEP BLUE SEA , USA , 1999 , MPAA Rating : R for graphic shark attacks, and for language

THE DEEP BLUE SEA is Renny Harlinís latest attempt to revive a career that withered and should have died a long, long time ago. Harlin, perpetrated, I mean, directed CUTTHROAT ISLAND, which ended his marriage to Geena Davis, but oddly enough, it did not stop studios from giving him big bucks to repeat his mistakes. His latest takes us to the ocean in what, under the influence of some sort of controlled substance, might pass for an action film. 


As for the cast, these poor souls are forced to recite dialogue dense with cliches and with only the occasional non-sequitor thrown in to rouse us from our stupor. Samuel L. Jackson shows brave, if misplaced, loyalty for appearing again in one of Mr. Harlinís efforts. But ultimately all he and the others, Thomas Jane, Saffron Burrows, Stellan Skarsgard, and LL Kool J, can do is pose attractively while waiting for the ordeal to end.


The premise is some drivel about using shark fluids to regenerate the brain cells of Alzheimerís victims. Yeah, I know, sharks, humans, not a lot of similarities. But if we learned nothing else from that head-banger classic, NIGHT OF THE LEPUS, itís that no matter how big you make a rabbit, itís still a bunny and the only thing that thatís going to scare is a carrot. So sharks it is, and not guinea pigs.  And here we have another problem Ė the special effects, and I do use that term loosely. The sharks, especially when theyíre on the attack, look like nothing so much as plastic bath toys of a decidedly inferior quality desperately fighting against the swirling vortex created when the tubís plug is pulled.


Which brings me to the really big problem. The sharks are super smart, because the chief mad scientist, who like all female mad scientists wears a push-up bra, decided to make their brains bigger. Just what the world needs -- really smart killing machines. Right there you know that the sharks are not up against what I would describe as worthy competitors. Au contraire, theyíre up against characters who drop their spear guns BEFORE they jump into the water with the sharks. These sharks are wasted on these people.  Guppies could outsmart these folks and not even the type-A personality guppies. The underachievers could handle them. You see people like this and you want to say, ĒFor the love of GOD, thin the herd. Take them out before their genes can infect another generation. Allowing these people to live -- and breed -- will just bring humankind down in the end.Ē And once you as an audience member have crossed that line, can you really think of the sharks as evil?  I think not.


Because Iím from the south, Iím culturally conditioned to say something nice now, if at all possible. So here it is. Renny Harlin did an effective job of blowing things up in THE DEEP BLUE SEA. He just didnít do it completely or soon enough, say in the first five minutes. 

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