The F*ckin Black Sheep: Deep Rising (1998)

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

Deep Rising (1998)
Directed by Stephen Sommers

“DEEP RISING remains a highly entertainingly goofy horror/action movie."

Movies set at sea have had quite a rocky voyage in Hollywood. Some have ended up as tidal waves (TITANIC) while some barely made a ripple (IN THE HEART OF THE SEA just sank). With Mark Wahlberg braving those treacherous waters with his latest true story adventure, it seems like a good time to reflect on one of those disappointing flops with 1998’s DEEP RISING.

Looking back, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that DEEP RISING bombed mightily at the box office, earning $11 million off a $45 million budget. That’s not good. But considering it starred the always great Treat Williams, who took over the very B-movie SUBSTITUTE franchise the same year and whose last notable film came a decade earlier with DEAD HEAT (and notable is giving it some credit), they should have suspected that they might lose some cash. Especially considering producers originally targeted Harrison Ford for the lead role of John Finnegan (by the way, I assume that whoever approved that budget with Treat Williams as the star ended up canned).

With all that said, DEEP RISING remains a highly entertainingly goofy horror/action movie showcasing that Williams deserved more opportunity as an action man. He never managed to hit superstardom (though he had a hell of a career), but he’s a damn likable actor. Here, as Finnegan, he’s an outlaw of sorts with a ship for hire to the highest bidder. Williams is funny in the right spots and tough when he needs to.

What I dig most about DEEP RISING comes from that everyone here is morally corrupt with a boatload of mercenaries, a hot thief in a red dress, and a captain who takes passengers with no questions asked. Finnegan isn’t a hero because he just wants to stay alive, but then again, since everyone “good” on board the cruise ship was already dead before he got there, that’s unfair. Regardless, Williams proves here that he should have received a few more opportunities that have nothing to do with him as an undercover substitute teacher.

The story revolves around Finnegan and his crew (Kevin J. O’Connor and Una Damon) being hired by a group of mercenaries (including Wes Studi, Jason Flemyng, Cliff Curtis, and Djimon Hounsou) for unknown purposes – though they did smuggle torpedoes on board. Coincidently, someone sabotages a brand spanking new cruise ship at the SAME TIME when a mysterious, pissed off man-eating sea creature decides to attack. Oh, and the ALWAYS hot Famke Janssen (she’ll always be Xenia Onatopp to me) happens to be onboard as a wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time thief. Obviously, lots of folks get dead in really bloody ways.

What’s interesting is that even though DEEP RISING bombed at the box office and with critics (Roger Ebert was not a fan), writer/director Stephen Sommers returned to the monster world a year later and hit big time with his reboot of THE MUMMY, creating a franchise. Love him or hate him, the man knows how to bring that INDIAN JONES-type vibe, mixing action and humor. Sommers might never be mistaken for a master filmmaker, but he does know how to create stupidly entertaining flicks with monsters and a lot of CGI.

Speaking of which, for a $45 million 1998 flick, the effects really aren’t too bad especially considering the creature is a massive CGI sea monster and all. I guess having THE THING’s Rob Bottin helps that factor; however, he should have taken a note from that movie and kept the monster in the dark a little more. Mostly, Sommers and Bottin smartly show it only here and there…that is until the third act where the CGI looks, well, terrible. For whatever reason though since the film is so over-the-top goofy, it kinda fits. We don’t need perfection here. We need amusing escapism. And that’s what DEEP RISING delivers. Good horror/action escapism.



Extra Tidbit: Are you a fan of DEEP RISING?



Latest Movie News Headlines