A cruise ship gets attacked by a giant sea creature. Shortly thereafter a group of mercenaries boards the ship to rob it but run into said creature and have to fight for their lives.
Finnegan (Treat Williams (The Substitutes)) and his crew are the escorts that take the mercenaries to the ship. They get caught up in the bullshit and don’t want to have anything to do with the heist. Finnegan is our hero and he’s very Han Solo-ish. He doesn’t care about what he’s transporting as long as he gets paid (his slogan is “if the cash is there, we do not care”), he acts cool in every situation, is smooth and snarky as hell. He’s actually fairly good action hero material except his hammy-ness gets a little annoying. In other words this is classic Treat Williams, loveable but surprisingly irritating for ninety minutes.
So this is essentially Predator which is a little weird because it doesn’t really feel like Predator at all. It’s not as serious, well-made or innovative. And having the protagonist not be one of the mercenaries I think makes things feel different.
In terms of the action, it’s alright. Most of it is fun but it’s repetitive. There’s a lot of running and shooting at the tentacle monster. In fact almost every action scene involves a gun of some kind so there’s not a lot of variety there. Even the Jet Ski part at the end Finnegan uses a shotgun to shoot open elevator doors (?!) so he can pass through them. It’s all shot and edited clearly though so that’s good (I probably didn’t need to mention that since this came out in 1998 but it’s a force of habit now).
The sea monster is made up of bad 90’s CGI most of the time but there were a few moments when it looked almost as good as today’s shit. Wait, did I just faintly praise CGI? Look, I don’t hate CGI but I think it’s kinda overused. There’s still room for practical effects in my opinion. The thing is CGI simply costs less to do whatever your imagination desires. It’s also convenient as shit.
You know what though? It was smart to not show the creature until more than half way through the picture. They show the aftermath of a bloody and wrecked ship, walls buckling, the floor being torn up, an elevator going haywire but held off giving you a glimpse of this thing for a long time (minus the brief part during the opening credits). Most of the gags used were probably because of the size of the budget available but I’ll give kudos anyway. They still made it work.
My favorite part was when our group ends up in a hallway filled with skeletons, blood and goo. Then the walls start being crushed inwards first at the far end and then moving up to meet Finnegan and co. It’s great because of the imagery of the carnage left behind by the creature and also because the collapsing walls are more effective than showing the actual monster.
It was also kinda badass when Finnegan says “what’re you looking at?” right before he shotguns the mammoth creature in its huge eye. Man that must’ve stung.
One strange and sorta interesting thing is the R rating this carries. It feels more PG-13 than R most of the time. There are maybe two “fucks” and definitely one “motherfucker” in the language department. But in terms of blood and gore there’s only one part that’s a bit nasty and that’s when one of the mercenaries gets an ax to the head. Ouch. There’s also a part where we see a guy dissolving slowly, presumably from the creature’s stomach/body acid. Other than those couple of items this is a light R. The filmmakers could’ve easily made a couple of changes to put this in PG-13 territory but decided not to.
As creature action movies go this isn’t a top one. Others like Predator, Aliens and Starship Troopers are better. But I like that it’s a very boy’s-adventure story. It’s something that any boy aged five to at least fifteen would come up with if asked to pitch a movie concept. They would give you some shit about a group of guys with guns fighting off a ridiculous looking creature (or multiple creatures) in either an exotic or desolate locale. It’s every young male’s dream.
So in the end this film is like a piece of candy. It gives you a sweet fix but doesn’t provide any nourishment. Or another way you could put it is that Deep Rising isn’t very deep. Really it rises to be rather shallow. The title mimics the experience where it sounds cool at first but if you think about it for more than five seconds it starts to seem kinda dumb. Is that enough metaphors for you guys?
Nothing about this movie is particularly interesting. The characters are likable but somewhat hollow, the action while very coherent isn’t the greatest, the premise is fine but not genius and the cinematography isn’t anything special.
Stephen Sommers (The Mummy (1999), Van Helsing, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) wrote and directed this one. He doesn’t have a very good track record and is pretty hacky but I have to admit I had fun watching Deep Rising. It doesn’t really let up once things get rolling, which doesn’t take long. So I’d say check it out if you’re into creature action pictures.