When I reviewed Tremors just now, I mentioned that sometimes comedy does a better job fashioning engaging characters than drama, and Deep Blue Sea is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Fresh off her appearance in Wing Commander, Saffron Burrows plays one of those model/scientists who is hell bent for leather gonna cure alzheimer's. We get her character dossier when she recounts the heartbreak of having to tell her father over and over again that his wife was dead. I know alzheimer's is terrible, but I couldn't help think "lady, isn't that your bad? If he doesn't remember, do you have to tell him that every time?
So the scientist and her scientist buddies invite bigshot Samuel Jackson to their underwater facility where they're making big-brained sharks because the cure is lots of brain juice from sharks. After a night of rote character development they hoist a gimundo shark into the lab and get some brain juice, and sure enough it looks like it's the real cure, and then...wait for it...and then it all goes to hell.
Big brains mean smart sharks, and this trio of toothy customers have a plan to hit open water. It's unclear exactly how much is plan and how much is random chance, but I wasn't so impressed that the plan hinged on the incredible luck of the gale force storm and the sudden failure of the rescue helicoptor's winch. Soon the joint is flooding, threatening our dwindling crew with eventual drowndation while the deep water allows them to be stalked by sharks in their home and workplace.
Because this, I realized, is the movie's main hook: "There's a shark -- over by the coffee table!" It's not that different from the "floor's hot lava" game I referenced in my Tremors review, except it's far less interesting here for some reason.
Deep Blue Sea has a couple of worthy moments, but for me something never quite jells. It may be that the industrial setting is just too old hat, or that the characters are grinding some already worn grooves. There's a fair amount of Message kicking around, gumming up the works: lower class people are honest, science without conscious is bad (surprise! they did illegal genetic manipulation), religious faith is strength, L.L. Cool J is good, etc. Maybe it's simply too hard to root for the humans in this story, watching them get so roundly outwitted by fish.
But! But but but!
Deep Blue Sea has a scene of Gratuitous Stripping Down To Underwear.
This example is especially fun because it's unusual that stripping is actually part of someone's plan. Despite that distinction, I just can't bring myself to give this movie the three-star cred. Its overall flatness disappoints.