By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
Icelandic Director Baltasar Kormakur just had his second Hollywood film land in theaters- 2 Guns. With the reception of that and his debut, a remake of his own crime story Contraband, you probably wouldn’t expect that he’s actually a pretty highly regarded director in his homeland, just missing getting an Oscar nomination last year for this film, The Deep. Since I was intrigued to see what got him his reputation before Hollywood, I decided to hunt this one down and give it a look.
Cause I sure as hell didn’t need to see Contraband again
The Deep is actually not a dumb action film, surprisingly, instead a period drama set in the 1984, based on a real-life incident in which a fishing trawler sunk off the coast of one of Iceland’s most remote locales, which in the North Atlantic should have been a death sentence. Surprisingly, it wasn’t, and this tale of survival is indeed as unlikely as they come.
Kormakur and crew do an amazing job of establishing time and setting, from the film’s opening and beautifully shot super-8 flashbacks of a solitary, snow-swept fishing town still recovering from the scars of a volcanic eruption that nearly buried it years before (I actually remember seeing National Geographic photos of the eruption and aftermath- the way the recreate it is uncanny) to the fishing boat alone on the deep dark sea.
When disaster strikes, it’s filmed in an incredibly visceral, immediate way. I honestly don’t know how they filmed it outside of overturning an actual boat and dumping its crew into the sea. You feel like you’re right there with the unfortunate men, and the effect is a primordial terror that not much can match. Just imagine- alone, in the dark, freezing in the water without sight of land and unknowing what lies beneath you, ahead, or behind.
I can at least try and punch this ugly bastard
The fear is actually heightened, not dispelled, when you see other fishing boats pass, and realize that the chance of them seeing or hearing a tiny bobbing person in the vast dark sea is infinitesimal. Even when you can see salvation, you may as well be a million miles away.
This is no Perfect Storm, however, as life prevails, and the film becomes more of a character piece than disaster movie. I won’t go any further in depth than that to avoid spoiling the whole thing, but I’ll just say that the acting done in the section is excellent, and it’s interestingly thoughtful and calm for the guy who just brought you Denzel Washington’s grill.
Unfortunately, The Deep doesn’t spend enough time establishing its characters outside of broad strokes, so when disaster strikes you not only aren’t particularly affected by their plights, but might not even be able to figure out who just died and who’s left.
Shit, I think we left one on the planet. Everybody count off again!
This beer is a bit due to my expectations, and a bit due to pacing. At both 30 minutes and one hour into the film, I scratched my head and thought, “Well, what’s next?” It’s important to know that The Deep isn’t a Perfect Storm or even a Castaway. It’s more of a miraculous tale of survival, and almost as much time is spent in its aftermath as is used for setting it up the disaster dominoes, then knocking them down.
Disaster Dominoes: the best Dominoes
The Deep is a well-filmed, engaging tale of real-life survival against impossible odds.
Take a Drink: whenever a character does, or when one “falls in to the drink”
Take a Drink: every time the volcanic eruption is referenced
Take a Drink: for every sailor lost
Take a Drink: when Gulli talks to birds
Take a Drink: when somebody expressed doubt about Gulli’s story
Do a Shot: whenever a boat passes without responding