A gang of jewel thieves board an apparently deserted liner in the South China Seas, only to find that the passengers and crew have been killed off by some strange monster, that kills its victims and sucks the water from their bodies. Can they escape in one piece?
Godzilla used state-of-the-art CGI to decommission the man in a suit. Deep Rising seeks to consign the rubber octopus to the special effects museum (with a sign beneath it no doubt, saying, "Last used in Warlords Of Atlantis, 1978"). However, unlike Godzilla, this monster B-movie doesn't have ideas above its station.
The set-up mixes Beyond The Poseidon Adventure with Under Seige: a motley squad of piratical armed mercenaries in the South China Sea - transported, no-questions-asked, by a wisecracking sea dog (Williams) and his whining "grease monkey" (O'Connor) - boards luxury liner Argonautica in order to fleece its rich passengers. However, what they find is a ghost ship and just three survivors: a jewel thief in a red dress (Janssen), the vessel's captain (Derrick O'Connor) and shifty owner (Anthony Heald). Williams utters that threadbare cue: "I've got a really bad feeling about this", and the claustrophobic Alien-blueprint battle begins - dark corridors, big guns, half-glimpsed tentacles, individuals picked off one by one.
Like the previous year's Anaconda and The Relic, Deep Rising gives it the full Blue Peter, making a lot out of very little. It's nothing we haven't seen before, and as a scriptwriter, director Sommers is no David Mamet ("There's something down here," warns Williams, before our first octopoid sighting; "An island!" exclaims Heald when he spies land), but there is an unmistakable air of knowing self-parody about the square-jawed heroics and the Ten Little Indians framework, and it is possible to laugh with the film and not at it. Tragically, the worst lines are hogged by the Brits, a miscast Jason Flemyng machine-gunning tentacles with an unconvincing, "Have some of this, you wankers!"
The creature effects, by Total Recall/ The Thing supremo Rob Bottin, are not bad, and, while only the lily-livered will actually find the it's-behind-you tactics scary, it rattles along at a fair lick.
B-movie from top to toe, this provides just enough entertainment to let you overlook its vast and gaping flaws (performance, script, direction etc). By aiming low, it occasionally hits high.