Bullet Points: Deep Rising
Some movies are just not destined to be blockbuster hits. Not everything can make James Cameron money and he’s too busy cruising around the bottom of the ocean to make more than two movies a decade. Deep Rising is a film that is one big star away from being amazing. The team was trying to get Harrison Ford as the lead at one point but his denial caused the budget and interest for the movie to plummet. It really is a shame, too, because the film is one that could have been a massive hit.
Synopsis: A group of heavily armed hijackers board a luxury ocean liner in the South Pacific Ocean to loot it, only to do battle with a series of large-sized, tentacled, man-eating sea creatures who have taken over the ship first.
- Music to my ears: That synopsis is as great as it gets. It’s so ridiculous and epic-sounding that it deserves to be brought to the screen by a cast of incredible actors who are used to being attacked by unseen, CGI monsters. I will tell you, the cast for Deep Rising is one of my favorite ensembles of all time. The one that always comes to mind when I think of amazing casts is the one from the 1987 film Extreme Prejudice. Deep Rising takes what is a fun plot and enhances it with excellent character actors who only need a few minutes of screen time to “get over”. No long-winded origins necessary for these guys.
- Speaking of casts: Allow me to run down the first bit of names associated with Deep Rising: Treat Williams (The Substitute sequels), Famke Janssen (X-Men), Anthony Heald (The Silence of the Lambs), Wes Studi (The Last of the Mohicans), Kevin J. O’Connor (The Mummy), Cliff Curtis (Fear the Walking Dead), Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels), Trevor Goddard (Mortal Kombat), Clifton Powell (Street Kings), and Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator). It’s one of those movies where every scene features actors that you’ll recognize from other cool movies.
- We need a hero: Deep Rising is one of the few movies you’ll see where there are no “good guys”. Treat Williams and his crew are obviously the ones who we root for; the ones who ultimately stroll in and save the day. They aren’t bad guys, I guess, but they are mercenaries who are more worried about the money they make than the problems they cause. Could the movie have used a person as the moral standard for the movie? Maybe. But being bad is so much more fun sometimes.
- Now what?: The crew of Treat Williams’ boat is ferrying some pretty bad dudes across the South China Sea. They’re heading towards what I would describe as a massive luxury cruise ship with the intent to sink it. I feel like they could have gotten a better boat for their purposes with all the money they had but it at least gives us a chance to see the two crews interact. Treat and his people aren’t all-in on the mission but they desperately need the money. They’re basically Han Solo. In fact, Treat Williams would make for a perfect Han Solo!
- Rich evil dudes or sea creatures: It’s up to you to decide which is worse. Deep Rising lets us into the scheme that is undertaken by the totally corrupt Anthony Heald. He hired the mercs to sink his ship so he could collect the massive insurance money on it. Seems like a decent enough plan. It all goes sideways when the ship is instead attacked by a massive sea monster. Treat Williams has the awesome catchphrase of saying “Now what?” He uses it several times throughout the movie and you can probably imagine that many of those times are due to the craziness of the sea creature attacks.
- Why walk when you can ride?: If we’ve learned anything from action movies over the years, it’s that walking away from an explosion all nonchalantly makes you like super badass. What could be more badass than walking away from an explosion? How about ramping a jet ski away from an explosion. That is Mountain Dew commercial level cool. Even Vin Diesel would crap his pants over that one.
Not every movie deserves bonus Bullet Points but Treat Williams vs. giant Sea Creatures definitely does:
- “Don’t say I never gave you nothin’.”
- Where was Danny Trejo? This seems like the perfect movie for his “talents”. And by “talents” I mean his ability to play himself and get killed in well over one hundred movies.
- Famke almost wasn’t cast because they studio thought that she might have been too recognizable from her role in GoldenEye.
The Verdict: I thought that Deep Rising was about as good as any other action movie in 1998. The characters were excellently portrayed by the actors and the story was engaging enough to keep the movie flowing. The CGI hasn’t aged terribly well but fans of the genre will recognize about 90% of the actors in the movie and that’s always fun. Treat Williams has that campy charisma to him. Between this and his awesome villainous turn in The Phantom, I will always have a great affinity for him. I love a fun creature movie and the best way to do one is to put good actors in there with loads of cannon fodder. That is Deep Rising!