'Deep Rising' is a shallow, witless monster film

January 30, 1998|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

If it only had a brain.

Unfortunately, "Deep Rising" has no brain, only a bunch of sound (as in a score that starts loud and gets louder) and fury (as in a camera that shakes as though it were attached to a blender).

"Deep Rising" stars Treat Williams as Finnegan, captain of a boat-for-hire under the employ of some particularly nasty dudes led by Wes Studi (and including Djimon Hounsou, who must have accepted this part long before making such an impact in "Amistad"). Finnegan doesn't believe in asking questions (his motto: "If the cash is there, we don't care"), but even his interest is piqued when his cargo turns out to include a bunch of torpedoes.

At the same time Finnegan and company are speeding across the South China Sea, the ocean liner Argonautica, "the grandest, most luxurious, most expensive cruise ship ever built," is in the midst of its maiden voyage.

Obviously, the nasty dudes are headed for the Argonautica, and their intentions aren't honorable. But something even nastier -- a multi-tentacled, deep-sea carnivore that drinks its victims dry and then spits out their carcasses -- beats them to the punch. (They could have called this thing "Alien Meets Titanic.")

Imagine the beast's surprise when, after dining on the passengers of the Argonautica, a second ship shows up with about a dozen more warm bodies on board. Faster than you can say "after-dinner mint," it's back to the food table. Question is, can Finnegan and company, joined by the ship's owner (Anthony Heald), its captain (Derrick O'Connor) and a sultry, wise-cracking pickpocket (Famke Janssen), survive to star in a sequel?

Williams does fine as the film's hero, and Janssen has both the looks and the attitude to make her role interesting (her best trick, however, is keeping her T-shirt sparkling white throughout the entire film).

And "Deep Rising" scores points for not taking itself too seriously.

Still, that's no excuse for displaying no brains at all.

'Deep Rising'

Starring Treat Williams, Famke Janssen, Wes Studi

Directed by Stephen Sommers

Released by Hollywood Pictures

Rated R (monster violence, gore)

Sun Score: * 1/2

Pub Date: 1/30/98

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