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Film: Deep Blue Sea

"So here's the riddle. What does an eight thousand pound mako shark with a brain the size of a flat head V8 engine and no natural predators think about?"

Deep Blue Sea is a shark horror film from 1999, directed by Renny Harlin.

Dr. Susan McCallister, her team of scientists, and shark wrangler Carter Blake are researching a cure for Alzheimer's in a refurbished WWII Submarine refueling platform, using sharks to grow a protein that reactivates dead human neurons. However, the sharks' brains were too small, and the amounts of protein harvested were so small as to make the efforts unviable, so they use genetic engineering to give them larger brains. They kept the sharks corralled in an unbreakable mesh cage submerged in the ocean along with their labs. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

After one of the sharks escapes and causes a PR fiasco, Russell Franklin, the CEO of the company funding their research, comes in to inspect their progress and see if they should be funded or shut down. Of course something Goes Horribly Wrong.

Characters include:

Not to be confused with The Deep Blue Sea, which is a 2011 romantic drama film.


The movie has the following tropes.

  • Anyone Can Die: Literally moments after establishing himself as the leader of the group with an amazing speech, Samuel L. Jackson's character gets sharked to pieces. And despite the usual male and female love interest making it to the end, Susan McCallister cuts her arm and jumps into the water to distract the shark. You can't help thinking she's going to be alright, right before she's chomped, torn in two and swallowed. R.I.P. Sacrificial Lion.
  • Artistic License - Biology: Where to begin?
    • Contrary to popular belief, sharks do get cancer and other degenerative diseases, so the entire justification for working on sharks doesn't work. But, hey, it's a movie.
    • Apparently, this protein they are trying to extract from the sharks occurs in a giant bubble in the shark's head, and doesn't require any purification once extracted. Who says biology is messy?
    • What Alzheimer's disease does to brain tissue isn't just deactivating neurons. Massive plaques of material form in the brain and crowd out healthy cells. The protein, as described, wouldn't actually help.
    • In one early scene, a captured shark (an ordinary one, not one of the super-makos) is being lowered, in a harness, into a pen. The shark seems remarkably calm and comfortable, despite the fact that, being out of water, it should not have been able to breathe.
  • Artistic License - Physics: In the opening scene, the escaped super-mako smashes through the floor of a boat, and is seen snapping its massive jaws at the four teenagers aboard. Yet, somehow, the boat was able to stay afloat. When a huge hole is ripped through the floor of a boat, wouldn't it start sinking?
  • As the Good Book Says: That's why they call him "Preacher".
  • As You Know: It had to be brought up so that scientists could claim they hadn't. Even more awkward because it's Samuel L. Jackson talking Science.
    Russel Franklin: I'm just amazed we've come so far so fast without genetic tampering.
    Scientist: You know that's illegal.
  • Batman Gambit: By the sharks, whose pursuit of the humans is actually a ploy to get them to flood the floating station, so it'll sink low enough for the super-makos to escape into the ocean.
  • Badass Preacher: Preacher, who kills TWO out of the three sharks.
  • Big Bad: The sharks.
  • Black Dude Dies First: There are actually two black dudes; one a heroic leader figure played by Samuel L. Jackson and the other a secondary character separated from the main group with his own B-plot played by rapper LL Cool James. Guess which dies first? Subverted. Preacher even survives, thanks to the below-mentioned Focus Group Ending, and Jackson's character dies right in the middle of his Rousing Speech.
  • Cat Scare: With a model shark floating in one of flooded corridors.
  • Darkness Equals Death: Susan goes into her dark, half-submerged room for files. A shark sneaks in and tries to kill her.
  • Darkest Hour: So, we've slowly whittled the cast down to three people. Susan sacrifices herself to get the shark in range of the Harpoon Gun. Carter, who leapt into the water to save her, is now riding on the back of the shark as it swims toward its escape. Preacher takes his shot at the 40 foot shark... and pins Carter to the dorsal fin. Lampshaded. "A 40-foot shark and you hit me? Nice."
  • Dead Star Walking: Samuel L. Jackson.
  • Death by Irony: Subverted, as the character escapes with his life. Preacher hides from a shark in one of his ovens, when the shark's thrashing turns on the gas. He even lampshades this as he's making his escape.
  • Death by Sex: With drunk teens no less. Subverted, though it did attract the escaped shark in the opening.
  • Deconstruction: The film is fully aware it's a shark film, and subverts many tropes of the genre.
  • Decoy Protagonist
  • The End... Or Is It?: Played with. At the end Preacher asks Carter if he was sure that there were only three sharks, and Carter says yes. Then he takes his feet out of the water just to be sure.
  • Eye Poke: This is how Preacher survives being grabbbed by one of the sharks. The behemoth is dragging him through the water in her huge jaws, and he grabs his cross necklace and starts to stab her with it. She lets him go when he damages her eye.
  • Famous Last Words
    "We're going to pull together and we're gonna find a way to get outta here! First, we're gonna seal off this--!"
    "Come to Momma."
  • Fanservice: Susan is being stalked through the flooded complex by a shark. She comes up with a plan to electrocute the shark, which requires an insulating sheet, which requires her to strip off her wetsuit.
  • Focus Group Ending: This is why, contrary to genre expectations, Preacher survives, and Susan doesn't. All things considered, it worked out pretty well.
  • For Science!: Subverted. The cast rails against Susan's experiments, but it was never "for science," just for her dead father. That pissed her off, and stated that she doesn't need to justify her actions.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Their efforts to make the shark's brains bigger succeeded spectacularly... It helps that the intelligence was just a byproduct instead of the goal.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The shark's escape wasn't exactly as planned though.
  • Great White Hunter: Carter.
  • Hot Scientist: Susan.
  • Idiot Ball: Passed around right before Janice's death. She falls into the water, and stays there crying for help. It's a little hard to believe that even in a state of frenzied panic and fear of impending death she'd forget that there is a perfectly fine ladder about eight feet away from her. And Carter, rather than urge her to swim over to him, instead instructs her to just stay afloat right where the shark can most easily grab her, while taking the time to climb onto the broken ladder section so he can stage a Take My Hand scene by fishing her out of the water. Predictably, he fails.
  • Ignored Expert: Jake Carter tries to convince the "good" doctor that her plan is spectacularly ill-conceived.
  • It Can Think
  • Jaws First Person Perspective: It had to open with one.
  • Kill 'em All: Only Carter and Preacher survive.
  • Kill It with Fire: One way to kill a shark.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence / Sedgwick Speech: Russell's effort to rally the troops with a Rousing Speech goes horribly wrong when one of the sharks jumps out of the water and eats him.
  • MacGuffin: The Alzheimer's data disk Susan was trying to salvage. It gets fried by electricity, which almost makes this a Shoot the Shaggy Dog.
  • Night Swim Equals Death: Subverted in the beginning. Played straight later.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Susan says this almost word for word while trying to tend to the injured Dr. Whitlock.
  • Ominous Crack: Shortly after the extraction of brain tissue from one of the genetically engineered mako sharks, Dr. Whitlock is attacked by the supposedly sedated animal and has to be rushed to the surface. During the chaos that ensues, Whitlock's stretcher is dropped into the water by the crashing rescue helicopter and one of the sharks throws it against the laboratory's observation window, resulting in an Ominous Crack.
  • Polly Wants a Microphone: Preacher's parrot.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "You ate my bird."
  • Redemption Equals Death: Susan.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The makos don't seem to just be trying to set themselves free. There are just some little things they do that indicate they're trying to intimidate and frighten the humans, such as the aforementioned Ominous Crack.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Russell Franklin, played by Samuel L. Jackson.
  • Scale of Scientific Sins: Giving sharks, already apex predators, an intelligence boost?! Yeah, people are gonna die.
  • Screw Learning, I Have Phlebotinum!
  • Shock and Awe: Another way to kill a shark.
  • Short Lived Aerial Escape: The director of this film has a tradition of blowing choppers, after all.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To Jaws, of course. It opens with the shark's POV, the scene where Susan confronts a shark in the lab is similar to the one with Brody inside the sinking Orca, and two of the sharks are blown up (like in the original and the 3rd) and one is electrocuted (like in Jaws 2).
    • Even the way the sharks attack is reminiscent of several Jaws movies. As an example, how the shark tears off the arm of one of the scientists is from Jaws: The Revenge, and when the shark crashes against the window is from Jaws 3D.
    • Preacher's hiding in the oven looks a lot like a similar scene in Jurassic Park.
    • The scene of the vertical-shaft climb is a clear homage to The Poseidon Adventure.
    • Early in the film, a license plate is pulled out of a shark's mouth. It's the same license plate that fell out of the shark's stomach in Jaws.
    • The film's poster. The shot of the menacing shark looming behind the unsuspecting Susan is very similar to the posters of Jaws and Jaws 2, which had the shark looming under and behind an unsuspecting swimmer and water-skier, respectively.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: An effective one. By a shark.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Susan, who clearly didn't need to jump in the water to distract the shark with her blood, and even if she did have to jump, she could have stuck close to the ladder.
  • Supporting Protagonist:
    • Let's face it. Preacher single-handedly kills one shark, miraculously saves everyone when one of their escape attempts fails, and in the end saves the day by killing the last shark and giving Carter time to escape. Although escape would've been easier had Preacher not shot him in the leg with the harpoon gun while shooting the shark. He's also the only person in the entire movie who survives a direct attack by one of the sharks (the biggest one no less), even partially blinding it in the process.
    • Carter also fits, as Susan is supposedly the focus of the movie (she's even in the poster).
  • Small Taxonomy Pools: Averted, instead of the Great White, we have mako sharks - which fits both Shown Their Work (makos are among the smarter and more agile of shark species, while the great white wouldn't have done so well at navigating the flooded corridors) and Rule of Scary (the pointed and jagged teeth of the mutated makos in this film are considerably scarier than the triangular ones of the Great White).
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The sharks; Tom Jane even points out that sharks don't particularly like the taste of people. Justified because eating the people isn't the goal, getting them to open doors and flood the facility is. Although wiping them out is a beneficial bonus since no one else would know about the super intelligent sharks...
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Again, when the top billed actor (Samuel L. Jackson) is chewed by a shark half-way through the movie you can't help but be surprised.
  • Survival Mantra: Starts Biblical ("Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil. For thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.") then the blackness kicks in ("Because I carry a big stick and I'm the meanest mother fucker in the valley! Two sharks down, Lord! One demon fish to go! Can I get an Amen?").
  • Take My Hand: When traveling up the service shaft, this happens with Carter trying to grab Janice out of the water when she falls in. The shark drags her under only to leap back up with the woman still half eaten and covered in gore, hand still reaching out to be saved before sinking back under. These sharks are so intelligent that the only reason for it to be doing that is either because it was taunting him, or hoping he'd grab her because with the full weight of a super shark with half her body down his gullet, the only thing that could have happened would have been him getting dragged own with them.
  • Title Drop
    Carter: "That's the answer to the riddle. Because that's what an 8000-pound mako thinks about. About freedom. About the Deep Blue Sea."
  • Threatening Shark: This movie is notable for using makos as the sharks, rather than great whites. Even so they are supersized and massively intelligent, as a regular sized mako wouldn't be quite as intimidating.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Russell Franklin's best plan to escape the lowest level of the facility was to try to out-swim two freaking sharks to the surface. Fortunately, one of the other survivors tears this plan to pieces by comparing the swimming speeds of average humans and average sharks (the sharks unsurprisingly being several orders of magnitude faster), and provides a less-suicidal method of escape.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Carter and Susan.
  • Villain Protagonist: "Deepest Bluest", the ending credits theme song by LL Cool J is written from either the perspective of the sharks or of LL himself as a man-shark hybrid.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Susan.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Dr. Susan's actions prior to the film.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Preacher, though at times it actually works out to his advantage.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Preacher when he realizes he might be roasting himself in his own kitchen oven.


[after killing all the sharks]
Carter: Amen.
[ending credits theme kicks in]

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alternative title(s): Deep Blue Sea
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