In a future world, where land has become submerged by water, the Mariner teams up with a woman and little girl to find dryland.
The weight of expectation on Fishtar, Kevin's Gate, Wet Max (take your pick), has meant you can almost smell the sadistic glee from those willing this $200 million bloater to turn belly-up. But, the bean counters at Universal apart, who cares? As for the real question - is it worth watching - rest assured this action adventure is certainly a cut above your average over-hyped threequel, a quite impressive feat of filmmaking in which director Reynolds has not only created a whole capsule world of, well, water, but thrown in some spectacular stunts and sets unlike anything seen before.
In a futuristic scenario where land has become submerged, Costner is the lone Mariner, who drifts on his trimaran, quaffing his own urine and swimming about like the Man From Atlantis with some curious flap-like gills stuck behind his ears.
One thing leading to another, he ends up sharing his quarters with the rather comely Helen (Tripplehorn) and a little girl Enola (Majorino) and it's off on a mission to seek terra firma, the mythic "Dryland", its whereabouts detailed in a map tattooed on Enola's back. This, it transpires, is a good enough reason for arch villain Deacon (Hopper) and his band of marauding "smokers" (so-called because they're fond of a tab or two) to set off in hot pursuit.
Hopper, of course, can always be replied upon for scenery chewing, and his off-the-peg baddie certainly makes up for the lack of flamboyance in Costner's unsympathetic hero. With water, water everywhere, the illusion of being (literally) all at sea is sustained throughout and the spectacular stunts (most notably a flying jet ski attack), and the sets themselves (like a huge floating pre-fab atoll), are a fair indication of where the odd bob or two was spent. Though, paradoxically, the best section of the film - the scenes on the trimaran - are also the least extravagant. Is the money up there on screen? Well, Universal did make their cash back. But, more importantly, from the stalls it's swiftly apparent that, Kevin Costner, the boy swum well.
By no means the disaster it was hyped to be at the time - this is a surprisingly impressive sci-fi adventure.