DEEP BLUE SEA
If all things in the world were fair then nobody would ever have trusted Renny Harlin with the reins of a mega-million dollar action film again and would have instead given the money to people like Guy Maddin, Henry Selick or David Cronenberg who always have to struggle to find funding. It is sometimes difficult to fathom Hollywood logic as to why someone would entrust Harlin with another large-budget production after his proven track records of over-budgeted flops but such has continued to be the case. Harlin subsequently went on as a replacement director with the much derided Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) and then went onto the serial killer thriller Mindhunters (2004), the witchcraft film The Covenant (2006), the non-genre 12 Rounds (2009) and The Legend of Hercules (2014).
Deep Blue Sea was billed as a big-budget CGI version of Jaws (1975). You can see the way the thinking goes two killer shark movies but the Spielberg film that Deep Blue Sea comes closest to is Jurassic Park (1993). The plot here is stolen virtually wholesale from Jurassic Parks set-up about genetically-engineered creatures getting loose from their penned confines. The part about finding a cure for Alzheimers seems even slimmer a raison detre than most of the pretexts that exist in these films. (There is one extremely silly scene where successfully regenerated brain tissue suddenly starts producing little lightning bolts under a microscope).
The surprise with Deep Blue Sea is that Renny Harlin almost makes a decent film out of it. Once he cuts to the chase, Harlin produces a moderately well made and occasionally intensive combination of Alien (1979) and Jurassic Park. (Indeed, Deep Blue Sea generates suspense better than Alien: Resurrection (1997) a project that Renny Harlin was once assigned to). Deep Blue Sea is a film that once has to accept entirely on Harlins level that of the insistently in-your-face spectacular but at least it is well mounted on that level. Indeed, of the 1999 summer seasons plethora of CGI-driven monster movies The Mummy (1999), The Haunting (1999), Lake Placid (1999) Deep Blue Sea is the only one of the group that offered more than mindless pop-up effects and bothered to generate suspense.
Of course, as with any Renny Harlin film, there is a good share of scenes where the action treads a fine line between effectiveness and foolishness. While Harlin keeps you on the edge of the seat some of the time, the rest you are falling off it in laughter. There is a scene with LL Cool J in a flooded kitchen trying to hide from a shark in an oven where the shark somehow manages to start the oven cooking, which falls into the risibly preposterous. Another is a false jump with a shark leaping out of the water to gobble up a parrot. And a scene where, with wholly contrived rationale, Saffron Burrows is required to stand in her bra and panties on a desk trying to electrocute a shark with a bare electrical cable, seems absurd in the obviousness of its gratuitousness. Certainly, in terms of its cheesy schlock silliness, Deep Blue Sea is one of the more watchably enjoyable of Renny Harlins films.