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January 20, 2020

Underwater (2020) --- "7 Miles Below the Ocean Surface Something Has Awakened"


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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     Nora (Kristen Stewart) is a mechanical engineer on a deep-sea oil rig at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, nearly 7 miles beneath the surface. When an earthquake causes the rig to become unstable, Nora and a small band of survivors, led by their captain, Lucien (Vincent Cassel), must work together to try and make it to the surface. When all the rescue pods were damaged in the quake, the crew have no choice but to suit up and walk across the ocean floor to get to the rescue pods at another outpost several miles away. But as they begin their trek, they quickly realize that something has been awakened and is now hunting them down one by one. If the creature doesn’t kill them then their depleting oxygen will. Who will survive? Directed by William Eubank (Signal) and written by Brian Duffield (Insurgent) and Adam Cozad (Legend of Tarzan), Underwater (2020) is an entertaining science fiction horror film that will capture your attention from beginning to end.
     The film does not drag the story with early moments of character development but instead chooses to get straight to the story’s main plot. Less than 5 minutes after the opening credits the story takes off when the rig is rocked by some sort of explosion and 70% of the structure is damaged. The survivors are quickly identified - Nora (Ms. Stewart), Rodrigo (Mamoudou Athie), wise-cracking Paul (TJ Miller), the Captain (Vincent Cassel), and lovebirds Emily (Jessica Henwick) and Smith (John Gallagher Jr) - but there is still no time for much character development as the crew makes the perilous journey towards rescue, and yet anyone who has ever watched similar films knows that not all the survivors will make it. As the story moves along there is plenty of tension, danger, and suspense, and the story is at its best when it lets the moment speak for itself. The visual effects team is successful in creating an environment of danger and claustrophobia, and while the slo-mo can be irritatingly overused in a film, Underwater gets it right. Choosing to use it sparingly in order to increase its thrill factor.
     However, while it is a fast-paced, tense, and relentless sci-fi thriller, it lacks substance in certain areas. For instance, although this is supposed to be a sci-fi thriller, Underwater is more preoccupied with delivering a thrilling experience than building on the story, character arcs, and science elements. Instead, the film puts more of its focus on the characters’ attempts to survive amid an impossible situation without truly understanding the sinister threat they are facing in addition to the dwindling oxygen and lack of escape pods. They are prey being hunted by something they should have never woken up.
     As I mentioned early Underwater sacrifices its character development for action and thrills, and while it did miss its opportunity to deliver some compelling character pieces, the cast performances manage to get the job done. Kristen Stewart (Charlie’s Angles) is good as the lead, Norah Price. It’s not her best performance but for a sci-fi thriller lacking in character development, she pulls off the role quite nicely and her determined performance effectively molds her into a resilient heroine we want to see survive. T.J. Miller (Deadpool 2) as wisecracking Paul acts as the film’s comic relief and turns out to be the only character with a distinctive personality. As for Vincent Cassel (Black Swan, Derailed), Jessica Henwick (Marvel’s The Iron Fist), John Gallagher Jr. (10 Cloverfield Lane, The Belko Experiment), and Mamoudou Athie (The Circle, Jurassic World 3), they all deliver some decent and slightly emotive supporting performances. I think if the film slowed down in the first 30 minutes and gave the characters the opportunity to develop, then the audience would have been able to connect more with the characters and their stories. 
     Overall Underwater (2020) is a tense, fast-paced, and immersive sci-fi thriller action horror is entertaining at its best and lacking at its worst. With its 95-minute runtime, Underwater ensures that audiences will be taken on a blistering journey towards survival but with its lack of character development Underwater falls short of being a cult classic like the Alien franchise or delivering a horrifyingly unforgettable experience like Life (2017). Nevertheless, this is without a doubt an exciting and entertaining film that is sure to make you jump. If you are a fan of thrilling horror sci-fi creature films like Life and Alien then I highly recommend that you check this one out.

Final Vote --- 7 of 10 stars

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