October 20, 2015


Ron Scalpello, 2015
Scalpello's deep sea survival piece feels very much like a blend of All is Lost and Gravity in terms of concept. Basically the entire film is set in the tight pod that houses a crew of men who were sent 700 ft below the surface to repair a pipeline. After rough seas force them to abandon their duties and return to their ship, they learn that their base ship has perished in a storm above them. The limited oxygen in the ship creates a figurative life-clock that they constantly monitor. Their distress beacon can be dispatched but may not have a wide enough range to help them. Even the pressure levels at their depth can create big problems for them. The deep ocean elements basically create a situation that very much feels like being lost in space. They can't exit their vessel without enduring the harsh exterior elements. They have little to no connection with the outside world. Perhaps it's a bit more daunting than being stuck in space, because there are literally just a few hundred feet below the surface of the water right here on Earth.

To the film's credit, the struggle between the men is moderately compelling. The look of worry on their faces, and the challenges that are in front of them are enough to draw some sympathy. But there's something lacking in the film that pushes it lower in the ranks of the really good survival pictures. It's because of lack of story. You are forced to spend 90 minutes in panic with the group that you really don't know much about. You don't know anything about their lives above the surface. We aren't ever really given much backstory, other than in the form of abstract flashbacks that are more confusing than revealing. It's certainly a nice looking deep sea movie with impressive set design. But it just scratches the surface of a really good ocean movie, making it feel more Open Water than 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

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