STARRING: Ed Harris, Mary Mastrantonio, Michael Biehn, Leo Burmeister, Todd Graff, Kimberly Scott

1989, 140 minutes, Directed by: James Cameron

Description: Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, as formerly married petroleum engineers who still have some "issues" to work out, are drafted to assist a gung-ho Navy SEAL (Michael Biehn) with a top-secret recovery operation: a nuclear sub has been ambushed and sunk, under mysterious circumstances, in some of the deepest waters on earth, and the petro-techies have the only submersible craft capable of diving down that far.

The Abyss is a first alien contact movie based on a short story director James Cameron wrote when he was a teenager. It didn't do as well as his other blockbusters (such as Aliens and Terminator 2) at the box office probably due to its bloated budget and lack of major stars.

There are the usual plot gimmicks: saboteurs in the midst of the team, etc. But Cameron knows his stuff: the underwater special effects are truly special and the tension sustained throughout.

Did I say throughout? That is except for the last 20 minutes in which the aliens turn out to be benign and in true deus ex machina style saves the heroes. Only problem is that all this feels like it has been ripped out of a different movie (Close Encounters?) and doesn't quite fit in with what has happened before.

Longish, but definitely worth seeing if only for some of the most spectacular underwater scenes ever filmed. Maybe one should try walking out before the ending. Incidentally, an extended so-called The Abyss - Special Edition "director's cut" is available on video and DVD, which adds sequences not seen in the theatrical release.


# 33
of the
Top 100 Sci-Fi Movies
of all time



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