Deep Blue Sea is a JAWS rip-off. Of course, you
might be one to say that about any film with monster sharks eating humans – I
certainly would. But that’s because I’m a big JAWS fan. However, bias
aside, Deep Blue Sea is not shy about letting you know it’s a JAWS
rip-off. It not only acknowledges it, but it plays with it. And guess what? It
pays off in an entertaining, if not original, movie.
The film stars no one except Samuel L. Jackson, who plays a
millionaire entrepreneur financing the whole ‘cure Alzheimer’s disease with
shark brain goo’ project, and LL Cool J, who plays a chef/preacher/alcoholic.
The rest of the main characters are played by actors I’ve never heard of who do
an adequate job of being victims.
What this film will become famous for is the utterly surprising
killing of one of the main characters at a completely surprising moment. No
amount of preparedness can save you from the abrupt chomp on this poor
There’s not much to say about the plot. Basically, scientist Susan
McAlester (Saffron Burrows) lost a relative to Alzheimer’s disease, so she
believes that she can cure it with some sort of chemical found in mako shark
brains. So off she goes into an underwater lab once used to build submarines,
with a fleet of computers and a tough-guy shark wrangler (Thomas Jane).
Unfortunately, to get enough liquid to do the job, McAlester had to increase the
brain mass of the shark by at least five times – making for
super-intelligent sharks. Oddly enough, this also requires that the sharks get
nearly five times larger than your average mako shark.
Anyway, the usual Jurassic Park-style storm shows up,
knocking everything haywire just when the super-makos decide to rebel. Then, we
switch to Alien, with the sharks hunting the humans down the flooded
halls of the complex. Then it’s chomp chomp, chomp chomp, only a few survivors
are left. And lots of homages to JAWS sprinkled about.
As a thriller, however, the film works. The filmmakers get a lot
of mileage out of how hard it is to see a shark in when you’re on the surface
and it’s in the water (although when it’s a 20-foot shark in a 30-foot room, I
have a hard time believing you wouldn’t see it, but anyway).
LL Cool J’s character is fun, and Jackson is his typical cool
self, but otherwise the actors are just there as fish food. But it’s fun to
watch them fight the sharks or, ultimately, lose the battle. Either way, there
are indeed thrills and chills here, it’s just that we’ve seen them before.