“Underwater” would have made an exceptional film if they had only figured out what they wanted to do with this mix before they’d started rolling. This film had potential; a great leading actress, a good score, and a compelling plot, but it still let down.
The beginning of the movie was interesting. They tossed viewers right into the action, choosing instead to litter exposition as the story progressed. At least that’s what I had thought.
The cast is small, consisting of around six people. The captain (Vincent Cassel), Norah (Kristen Stewart), the intern (Jessica Henwick), Paul (T.J. Miller), Smith (John Gallagher Jr.), and Rodrigou (Mamouduo Athie) who was killed early on, leaving only five main cast members.
There’s plenty of time split amongst the cast. Which should have given equal chances to develop characters, make the audience want to root for them, and mourn them if they die. “Underwater” had none of that. By the time I walked out of the theater I had already forgotten the names of all the characters except for Paul, but that’s only because he talked the most – giving the viewer more of a chance to gauge his personality.
Even so, Paul was considerably underdeveloped. He had clips in his hair and carried around a stuffed bunny for the entire film. Odd traits for a grown man, but ones that are never explained. In the case of Norah, the main character, her sob story seems totally flat in its delivery. She talks about a lost loved one, a heart-wrenching event that sounds more like an inconvenience.
Then there was the love between the intern and Smith that seemed almost as last minute as the mutant-octopus creatures they threw in toward the middle of the movie. Everything was there to build quality characters, but instead what was delivered were underdeveloped shells of people.
The “earth-shattering revelation” being a big, mother creature amongst all the rest not willing to let anyone escape was a reminder of a much better movie: “Alien.” All that was missing was one of them ripping through Norah’s chest.
If they had simply stuck with the original “earthquake” cause of the whole rig imploding, the storyline would have been much more coherent. It would have been interesting to have an actual force of mother nature causing such events instead of some made up creatures the movie created in an attempt to be “deep.”
“Underwater” was a movie that tried to take on too much water all at once. Instead of rising as they had expected, they sunk. The film is still enjoyable, as most action-horror movies are in that strange cliché filled way, but don’t expect it to have much genius behind it like “Alien” had.