Underwater is directed by William Eubank. It stars TJ Miller, Kristen Stewart, Jessica Henwick, and Vincent Cassel.
Researchers are based at an underwater laboratory miles beneath the waves, where undersea drilling operations take place. When a disaster occurs crippling the station, a group of survivors must set a plan into motion to reach where craft are based which will give them their best shot at escaping to the surface and safety. But further disasters and hurdles, including some unexpected ones, will make the journey all the more harrowing and difficult.
Big-budget disaster movies are nothing new, and there seems to be something of a reawakening of them in recent years. Underwater plays like the bastard offspring of Alien and The Meg, but it lacks the sci-fi suspense and violence of the former, and the over-the-top “so bad it’s good” charms of the latter. The result is an hour and a half’s worth of decent suspenseful entertainment, but it doesn’t succeed as much more than that.
Casting is competent; the actors all do suitably well with the material they’re given. Kristen Stewart is a suitably bad-ass heroine, and you’ll wish she was in a better movie than this. The other real standout performance is from TJ Miller (Deadpool, Ready Player One) as the much-needed comic relief a dark and ready undersea tale like this needs, but he’s criminally underused here. While I have issues with the movie, casting isn’t one of them.
Unfortunately, the movie’s execution leaves a lot to be desired, despite some pretty solid production design. The attempts to bring the murky ocean depths to life must be applauded, but because of the filming style, it’s difficult to tell what’s going on half the time. There are also plot contrivances and conveniences which arise at just the right times. The unexpected obstacles our heroes must face aren’t too unexpected at all, and there’s little which sets the movie apart from its contemporaries. Give us a dark and dreary hard R-rated tale of suspense, or something with that “so bad it’s good” charm. Don’t give us something in between.
Underwater will make for a decent weekend rental when it hits home video formats, but with so many Oscar contenders still in theaters which would make better choices for your evening at the movies, don’t rush out to catch it on the big screen. Moderately recommended as an eventual rental, but nothing more.
Rating: Two stars out of four.
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