There are actually a few things to like about "Underwater," but unfortunately, there are just too many holes to keep this ship afloat.
Kristen Stewart is desperately in need of a hit, but sadly, this ain't it. In the horror-sci-fi thriller "Underwater," Stewart stars as Norah, some sort of marine technician who has been tasked to work on a massive underwater drilling station at one of the lowest points of the Ocean, seven miles deep into the Mariana Trench. When a mysterious, massive explosion rocks her base, she and a few other survivors gather together, and try to figure out just how the hell they're going to make it out of this tragic accident.
Norah meets up with the station Captain Lucien (Vincent Cassel) and a few others, but as we know from watching other movies in this vein, we're not going to get to know them for very long. As they attempt their daring mission to actually try to walk (with the proper gear of course) across the highly-pressurized ocean floor to try to reach some escape pods, they run into a number of obstacles before realizing...they're not alone. It's "Alien" meets "The Abyss" and somewhere in "Underwater" there was a framework for what might have been a successful genre picture...it's too bad that this potential is substituted for action and horror cliches as well as more than a few half-baked backstories.
Despite the often confusing and chaotic action sequences, there are a few good scares thrown in here and there. "Underwater" is more successful when it acts like a straight horror film, and less so when it tries to be anything else.
But there's a reason that this movie sat on the shelf for nearly three years (other than that it stars the troubled comedian, T.J. Miller, who is apparently supposed to supply the movie with some comic relief). It contains voice-over that doesn't make sense, tonal shifts that are quite jarring, characters that do and say questionable things, and it includes some sort of subplot involving the actual technology company responsible for the underwater drilling.
Are we supposed to know what or who this corporation is? The movie plays as if this is tied in to some other movie or franchise...you may even feel as if you've missed something. Had this movie tied in to, say, the King Kong or "Monsters" Universe, it might have felt a bit cooler...but it's pretty obvious that this is instead a January drop, the time of year that movie studios push out material they don't know what else to do with.
"Underwater" gets more ridiculous, convoluted and meaningless the longer it treks on, but still I can't get over the feeling that there was some sort of kernel of a good movie buried deep down inside of this thing. Oh well. They say hope floats, but in this instance, any hope of this being a good movie sinks like dead weight shortly after the opening credits roll.
One last note...I was shocked...SHOCKED...that this movie earned a PG-13 rating. It has bloody, disgusting, gory violence at times, and more than a few f-bombs. What does it take these days to get an R-rating? I guess more than this, which is quite disappointing and surprising.
Genre: Action, Drama, Horror.
Run Time: 1 hour 35 minutes.
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Vincent Cassel, Mamoudou Athie, Gunner Wright, T.J. Miller, John Gallagher Jr.
Directed by William Eubank ("The Signal," "Love").
"Underwater" is in theaters on Friday, January 10th, 2020.
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