Deep Blue Sea 3, 2020.
Directed by John Pogue.
Starring Tania Raymonde, Nathaniel Buzolic, Emerson Brooks, Bren Foster, and Alex Bhat.
A team of scientists on a man-made fishing island have to team up with a team of marine biologists to catch three genetically enhanced bull sharks before they kill everything that has ever been in the sea ever… possibly.
Deep Blue Sea has become an unlikely franchise in that the original big budget studio picture was released in 1999 and a sequel didn’t arrive until 2018; that is, a DTV sequel that hardly set the world on fire thanks to its cheap production and severe lack of sharks for most of its running time.
Nevertheless, Deep Blue Sea 3 is here and it follows the same template of DTV filmmaking and production values as part two, but before you make an assumption based on that detail there is a bit of good news – director John Pogue has seen the original Deep Blue Sea, is a big fan and wanted to make this movie feel as similar to that one as he could. He says so in the ‘making of’ documentary. It’s all there if you look.
Anyway, in this one Dr. Emma Collins (Tanya Raymonde – Texas Chainsaw 3D) and her team live on the abandoned man-made fishing village of Little Happy, a small island sat in the middle of the Mozambique Channel, and study the effects of climate change, specifically how it is affecting the great white sharks in the area. However, all the peace and tranquillity of being flung against underwater rocks by great white sharks who know who you are (yeah, that happens) is soon broken when Richard (Nathaniel Buzolic – Hacksaw Ridge), a marine biologist and Emma’s former boyfriend, and his team show up saying they are looking for three rogue bull sharks.
Of course, the bull sharks show up and our ragtag bunch of scientists dive in to try and bring the sharks in. However, Richard wasn’t quite telling the whole story and it transpires that the sharks are the same three sharks that were seen fleeing to the open ocean at the end of the previous movie, which makes them particularly dangerous as their brains have been artificially enhanced and these sharks can now recognise weapons in a standoff (yeah, that happens too) and act accordingly. With three genetically mutated sharks on the loose and nobody trusting each other on the island, tensions run high as everyone has different ideas about what they should do, resulting in a bloodbath of catastrophic proportions.
Well, a bloodbath made up of a lot of CGI trickery as Deep Blue Sea 3, much like its predecessors, suffers from some very ropey effects that elicit a lot of laughter in certain scenes that warrant a bit of amusement thanks to the familiarity of the B-movie setups and then the payoff of floating limbs, mid-air decapitations (don’t ask – you need to see it) and a particularly dangerous dive off a boat. However, at other times the digital nature of the effects becomes frustrating as obvious CGI water is employed, the blood looks a little too much like it came from a Resident Evil game and the sharks move incredibly fast. Yes, they are supposed to be enhanced but they don’t have engines and seem to go from staying still to full throttle almost instantly, and whilst the sharks themselves don’t look too bad the movement, when combined with the CGI wave effects, just looks naff.
But this is to be expected from a low-budget DTV movie about sharks. The other main factor that lets the movie down a bit is the acting, which ranges from Tanya Raymonde giving it all and throwing her hat into the ring as a contender for the title of ‘Strong Female Lead in a Genre Movie’ (if such a title existed), to the amateur level of her co-stars, and she holds the whole thing together with admirable conviction; this may not be the movie to make her a genre icon but given the right role, who knows?
Unfortunately, Raymonde is underserved by a supporting cast of actors (allegedly) who would likely be big names in the made-for-TV market thanks to their awkward and unconvincing line deliveries. Granted, the actual science that Dr. Collins and her cohorts continuously spout might be dubious at best but at least try and make it sound believable, and add to that a love triangle that nobody cares about and a testosterone-heavy fist fight that has all the tension and excitement of two drunks in a pub car park who might have seen a Bruce Lee movie once, and the prospect of looking at cartoon sharks doesn’t seem quite so painful.
The funny thing is, after about an hour of dumb exposition and silly character sub-plots Deep Blue Sea 3 suddenly becomes the movie you want it to be as all of the characters lay their cards on the table so we know who to side with, the narrative becomes more focused and, at last, we get some fun action more in line with the original movie. As previously stated, the kills become increasingly bonkers and inventive, thanks in part to the island setting, and just when you think it is all going to end you realise there is another 15 minutes to go and the film decides to go into overdrive, offering up an almost grindhouse-style finale that made the previous 80 minutes worth sitting through.
It comes down to this – if you go into Deep Blue Sea 3 expecting something similar to the first movie you will be slightly disappointed as it doesn’t have that energy or the budget behind it but if you go into it wanting something better than Deep Blue Sea 2 then you will certainly have a good time as this is a definite improvement thanks to a strong lead performance, excellent production design and a wild sense of violent fun, although they do make you wait for it.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★