Abyss, The


It’s Dark Down There

Cast: Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Biehn, Leo Burmeste

Director: James Cameron

This is a pretty good wet water tale that actually takes a cliche alien design and makes it work. The story begins with a nuclear submarine cruising along near the bottom of a deep trench. Suddenly it seems to be attacked by something, something that moves impossibly fast. The captain tries to evade, but manages to crash into an underwater mountain. Now, in another part of the ocean, we join a band of rough employees of a private company. They are putting together an underwater base/station. Their leader (Harris) receives a call that yanks them away from their job to tackle something more serious: the exploration and rescue (the military hopes) of the crew of the submarine.

The crew is the usual cast of eccentric characters, including a strong, beefy second-in-command, the comm operator who has a pet rat, and the executive “suit” who comes down to make sure the crew does the job right.  Mastrantonio is the suit, and seems a very determined lady. Things are complicated by the fact that she and the leader are married, although it is made clear that this is a rocky relationship. They are joined by some military types as well, and the whole group (inside the moveable underwater station) get to where the submarine landed.

The rest of the movie can be classified as a tense drama, with the sci-fi features coming in near the end. Just what attacked the submarine, and what might lurk in the abyssian depths, is slowly revealed. The plot is pretty good, nothing is overdone, although there are plenty of clues and foreshadowing for those who look for such things. The characters are well drawn and the conversations witty, but there is also enough action to satisfy. All in all, The Abyss has a good mix and the ending, while somewhat preachy, isn’t too hard to accept.

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