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The need for energy makes humans do stupid things. Like in Underwater where a corporation builds a drilling platform in the Marianas Trench. Logistically, more energy was likely expended constructing this undersea rig than will ever be pulled from it, but that’s not for Underwater to consider.

Rather, Underwater’s problems come from monsters. Nasty suckers too, hating humanity for waking them up or destroying their home or generally invading their space – all fair reasons. A better movie might slit the throat of America’s oil wars or even BP’s incalculably costly drilling failure. Instead, Underwater seems more concerned with Kristen Stewart’s barely clothed screentime, making Underwear a better title.

kristen stewart image underwater

Underwater’s greater context suggest something sinister. Those details are left to drown


Underwater simply starts – Stewart begins in a bathroom, the base succumbs to pressure (or other things), and off Underwater goes. It’s chaos. Backstory sinks to the ocean’s bottom. Character elements cobble themselves together into marginal coherence, enough to get by in most routine creature movies. In glimpses, Underwater’s greater context suggest something sinister. Those details are left to drown. Subtext represents a possible savior to Underwater, and instead lingers without satisfying closure.

People do die; it’s that sort of movie after all. One dies in an explosively gruesome and memorable fashion, mostly because it’s the only visible death. Action, already clouded by the understandably murky underwater scenario, stitches images together with impossible rapidity. There’s no grounding. Tension, maybe, but that’s broken when it’s difficult to figure out who is who, and where is where. If Underwater’s intent was to disorient viewers to match the character’s own circumstances, that idea isn’t visualized.

The cast here skews young (the captain excluded). A corporation exploits this generation, sending them to risky depths to mine crude oil. There too is another thread for Underwater to catch, letting that slip off the hook too. There’s no world beyond Underwater. No warning about energy, no economic fears, no other woes that compel someone to take a gig like this. Even with safety precautions, undersea drilling at such depth is more likely to fail than heading into space.

If any lasting images result from Underwater, it comes late. Survivors approach a drilling site. The unidentified creatures hang, suspended in their ocean home. A hand scrapes across a diving helmet. An oxygen alarm suddenly blares, eliminating the eerie silence. Underwater sort of gets the sci-fi/horror formula, at least in accentuating freakishness. Don’t worry – Underwater willing undoes it all when reaching for scale (without context). Heroism saves the world, sort of anyway. A sacrifice to the corporate gods comes without sympathy thanks to a glaring logic fault.

“Glaring logic fault” applies to the entire movie for that matter.

Underwater
2

Movie

Underwater’s potential goes unfounded in a grating story hunting less for thrills and monsters than any sort of character definition.

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