Underwater (2020)

Underwater gets doomed the instant Alfred Newman’s fanfare triumphantly crows over the 20th Century Fox logo screen.  This invokes the openings of Alien and The Abyss, two classic movies that only remind us of everything this one lacks.  Hell, even The Poseidon Adventure had an irresistible campiness going for it.  Unfortunately–to borrow from an NBA coach’s famous rant–Gene Hackman ain’t walking through that door.  Neither are Ed Harris or Sigourney Weaver.  I will say, if a Xenomorph made its way into the movie and started mauling all these boring characters, I’d slap an extra star onto this rating:  Game over, man!  Game over!

Now that I’ve hit my quota of pop culture riffs for one review, let’s talk about this soggy-ass plot.  It’s the near-future.  A team of drillers and scientists live aboard a sprawling rig, somewhere in the ocean’s darkest deep.  Norah (Kristen Stewart), the chief engineer, spends the opening scene in contemplative grief.  And in her underwear.  It’s like filmmakers realized that their voiceover narration was so ponderous and clichéd that they’d better load this sequence up with some unmentionables, amirite?  Just when you thought this was gonna be the most boring Victoria’s Secret ad ever, boom goes the dynamite!  

Damn–another pop culture reference.  That’s my bad, yo.  Anyhoo, calamity befalls the rig, putting everyone in danger of being crushed by the immense pressure on the ocean floor.  Norah assembles a ragtag group of survivors to scale their way to the surface:  Lucien (Vicent Cassel) is the rig commander.  I can’t tell you much, because his character is so banal he makes rice cakes look like goulash.  Meanwhile, Liam (John Gallagher Jr.) and Emily (Jessica Henwick) are the secret lovers you’ll occasionally forget to care about.  And, finally, we have Paul (T.J. Miller), the rig comedian.  Paul carries a stuffed lovey and fires off cute one-liners like an NHL mascot with one of those t-shirt cannons.  

I’m about to tuck in a mild spoiler, so skip ahead if–actually, you know what?  Don’t skip ahead.  After all, my words are like rich corinthian leather. Just sit back and enjoy the texture.  So, yeah…this movie has monsters.  If you still care about the story by the time they come snarling into frame, I’ll award you with one shiny gold star.  Of the aforementioned characters, I will say that the one I hated the most gets eaten the first.  So, there’s that.

Movies like Underwater make me think I should drink more when I watch them.  Seriously, this was so not-suspenseful…unsuspenseful…screw it–BORING.  Three rum and Cokes would have hit the spot.  Then I might not have cared I was watching the Rolax watch version of Alien.  I’d say Ridley Scott should sue, but then he’d have to watch this gobbledegook.  My advice for him would be the same as it is for you:  Get a little Captain in you, and be prepared.  It starts going downhill after the logos.

95 min.  PG-13. 

Author: Todd Wofford

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