A group of American salvage experts, along with adventurer Dirk Pitt, discover that a rare mineral was being carried on the Titanic before it hit the iceberg. With the only other known deposits in the Soviet Union, and the US defence eagerly in need of it for a secret project, they devise a way of raise the old ship from its berth on the seabed.
It’s easy to see why this adaptation of Clive Cussler’s popular if dim-witted novel became a celebrated flop. Indeed, such was its expense, and paucity of the result, that producer Lord Grade was legendarily said to have commented on its failure: “Raise the Titanic? It would have been cheaper to lower the Atlantic?” that might have made a much better movie than this irredeemably daft and wooden action-thriller, optimistically aiming to turn Richard Jordan into the novel’s action hero (later portrayed by Matthew Maconaughey in Sahara), that lost going on $23 million.
Time has not helped either. The film was made back when the whereabouts of the wreck was still unknown, but now science and James Cameron have seen to it that its proposals of a complete ship on the sea floor are nonsense — it split into two halves! But isn’t just its naivety that hamstrings it, the execution is so bland it makes even the ludicrous stretches of the plot seem airless and unexciting. To conjure suspense there is a baffling mess of a plot involving secret stashes of mineral in the hold of the famous ship,, and various American government agents trying to get their hands on it. An espionage element that requires us to skirt back to the days of the Cold War to feels its urgency. When we finally get to the disaster movie in reverse section of the film, any potential thrill is lost in swathes of boring exposition and in undistinguished special effects (where did the money go?). It feels as tethered and limp as a TV movie,
So, what can you say for it? Well, John Barry as usual delivers a sturdy rather haunting score, Jason Robards is reliably stern as a retired admiral thrown into the midst of events, and the underwater photography is not half bad as the submersibles search the ocean floor for the fabled wreck. But, so po-faced and turgid is its delivery, it can’t even muster the necessary silliness to be a guilty pleasure.
Action thriller with not enough action even fewer thrills