The Abyss - Special Edition (1989)
Director: James Cameron
Lead Actors/Actresses: Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Supporting cast includes: Michael Biehn
Synopsis: (click and drag your mouse below to read the text)
An American nuclear submarine is attacked during the Cold War era and has sunk in extremely deep water. Navy SEALs must make use of an underwater oil rig which is operated by Bud Brigman and his team, but owned by his estranged wife, Lindsey. Problems begin to mount as the tension rises between the opinionated Bud and his strong-willed wife. But the friction doesn't stop there; the oil rig team resents the secrecy of the SEALs mission and the leader of the squad grows suspicious of everyone and everything as he succumbs to pressure sickness...especially when some unexpected life-forms make their presence known.
*END OF SPOILERS*
In my opinion, The Abyss is a rare movie and a gem. This movie is a science fiction adventure that received critical acclaim in a decade that science fiction movies were way out of mainstream acceptance (with some exceptions, of course, including the director's very own "Terminator"). This is evident by the fact that the estimated budget for the film was about 70 million dollars and grossed only 54 million at the USA box office. That kind of budget was rarely heard of at the time.
The special effects were outstanding, the soundscape and immersion into this underwater world that really exists but so few people really experience is palpable and is as close as most of us will ever get. It's an incredible experience to say the least.
But like all other great movies, what really held this movie together is the story and the characters. Bud and Lindsey really grow immensely as characters. The tension in their relationship is enigmatic as can only be expected from such stubborn, strong-willed couples and yet, I was surprised at the outcome of their struggle with each other when I first finished this film.
The movie plays excellently into our innate fear of the unknown and this environment was a perfect setting to explore the paranoia and claustrophobia to match the same traits in the tension of the relationships between the Navy SEALS and the oil rig crew, the military powers of the world, and the idea of unidentified life-forms from the depths of our own oceans rather than the endless expanse of space was, and still is, a welcome premise.
The Special Edition's extra 28 minutes literally make the whole premise and the entire message of this film multi-layered and much more sweeping than the theatrical release. It is with considerable curiosity that wonder why the shorter edit was released at all.
Ultimately, the movie succeeds on many levels; as a science fiction adventure, as an action and suspense piece, and as an epic love story between two people that ultimately determines the fate of every human being on the planet.
I give this movie 5 out 5 stars!