When an American nuclear submarine crashes, the United States Government believe the Russians to be responsible. They enlist the help of a team of underwater drilling platform workers who are to help the deployed Navy SEALS locate the crash site. As they get closer to their destination, the friction between the two teams increases. When some workers report seeing UFO's underwater, the SEALS grow increasingly suspicious and suspect a Russian mini-sub. After a series of near-fatal disasters, the workers find that they are the only people who are capable of stopping World War III. But they are not the only inhabitants of the deep, and strange things are happening back at the surface...
Directed by: James Cameron
. Starring: Ed Harris
, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
, Michael Biehn
, Leo Burmester
, Todd Graff
, John Bedford Lloyd
, J.C. Quinn
, Kimberly Scott
, Captain Kidd Brewer Jr.
, George Robert Klek
, Christopher Murphy
, Adam Nelson
, Dick Warlock
. Music by: Alan Silvestri
Typically, I hate the "love interest" part of movies. Most of the time, it's tacked on (ostensibly) to please the female portion of the audience, no matter how out-of-place it is. A good example is in the horrible Stephen Seagal movie "Under Siege" where he manages to line up a silicone bimbo for a love interest by finding her in a cake on board a Navy ship that was out to sea! In so many movies, and not just horrible movies like Seagal movies, when you see the male lead meet the love interest, you know it's time to go relieve yourself real quick or get some popcorn, because you've seen it 10,000 times before and it's just going to represent dead spots in the story that you wait to pass so you can get back to the story. Action movies usually have a love interest and almost always they detract from the story. Only a few, such as "Crimson Tide" escape a love interest and it serves to keep the movie interesting throughout. I think this is true for the female viewership as well when they are mature adults. However 75% of box office receipts (or some huge figure like that) are from people under 18 years old. The girls want to see romance and the boys want to see some boobs, and the people selling this product know that full well.
The Abyss, on the other hand, has the love story somewhat central to the plot, and even though it's a science fiction movie with a LOT of action, it works, and it's beautiful. In the movie, we both Ed Harris and Mary Mastrantonio's characters as real, respectable people. Intelligent people, capable people, honorable people. They're both extremely strong-willed and both are successful. She's highly educated and an engineer, he's a "doer," a leader of people, a guy who works where the rubber meets the road getting things done and coming through under pressure. They're in the process of a divorce.
And what they find through the course of the movie, by losing each other in the most dramatic and poignant of ways, is just how much they mean to each other. Nothing hackneyed, nothing trite or silly or melodramatic (in my view). The realities of the situation force both of them to watch the other take enormous unavoidable risks and because of that, it's driven home to each of them how much they really love each other, and how trivial the differences that are keeping them apart really are in the face of their feelings for each other. I've never seen it done like this before, and I've never responded more strongly to a love story element in a movie than I did to this one. I respected both characters. I believed they were in love. And the way they held their inner turmoil together instead of going into melodramatic histrionics like in most movies just made it that much more real and poignant for me.
Beyond the love story element, I think that this is one of the very best action movies I've ever seen, and I feel it's James Cameron's best movie to date by a wide margin. I really love the fact that the physics of what they are doing actually work, there is very little about this movie that's unrealistic from a scientific point of view, even though such an underwater vehicle doesn't really exist. I'm a stickler for scientific accuracy and this movie never once made me feel patronized. Although the underwater civilization is not necessarily realistic, there is a sharp dividing line between the fantastical and the tangible, and the tangible human science and endeavor is done intelligently and believably.
The entire supporting cast was fantastic, although I wish they hadn't put the black lady in a cowboy hat listening to C&W, that was a little retarded and unnecessary. She did a good job, too, but they should have just made her one of the crew and not some weird-ass reverse stereotype. The psychotic Navy Seal and the whole conflict with him was riveting, as well.
I think this is a smart, dramatic, powerful, and immensely satisfying movie and it's in my personal top 10 of all time. If you haven't seen the director's cut, I recommend you do.
Review by gmknorr from the Internet Movie Database.