A shark movie?! In 1999?! Hollywood wisdom states that if something is worth doing well once, it’s worth doing poorly a thousand times, so Universal bought this story from virgin scripters Duncan Kennedy and Wayne Powers and threw a pile of money into it. Somebody in marketing must’ve talked them out of calling it Jaws 5: The Other Revenge.
Somewhere over the Deep Blue Sea, in a remote submarine factory converted into a hi-tek marine biology lab, beautiful mad scientist Saffron Burrows (Wing Commander) is making sharks really, really smart so she can cure Alzheimer’s. Not a particularly bright idea, it turns out. The sharks plot and plan until they can take over the lab during a hurricane and try to make their escape, chewing up innocent bystanders along the way.
The first half is so by-the-numbers that even the least jaded viewer has to roll their eyes in disbelief. LL Cool J (Halloween: H20) again plays the Mantan Moreland chef character, also incorporating the “religious” character for economy’s sake. Samuel LL Jackson (in his first underwater role since Sphere) plays the rich industrialist who wants to see where his research money is going. Thomas Jane (Face/Off) does his best cross-eyed Christopher Lambert impression as the brooding shark wrangler with a troubled past. The big sharks have no trouble outsmarting this bunch and creating all kinds of wild coincidences happen, usually resulting in something blowing up real good.
Stuff blowing up real good is a specialty for director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2), and I was disappointed to see him wasted on this trite non-thriller – but then, in the second half, he manages to pull things together and the movie gets a lot more fun. LL gets over his shakes and starts to act heroic. The cheesy animated sharks eat more people. A helicopter blows up. Jackson makes one of the (unintentionally) funniest movie exits of the year. Burrows strips down to her undies. It’s not any smarter than Anaconda, but it’s just as goofy. Maybe it’s not the most intense action thriller ever, but it’s great for summer popcorn munching.