Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 20, 2018)
Almost 20 years after 1999’s Deep Blue Sea hit screens, 2018’s uncreatively titled Deep Blue Sea 2 arrived. I guess that one found a decent audience, as 2020 brings Deep Blue Sea 3.
Dr. Emma Collins (Tania Raymonde) studies sharks off the man-made island of Little Happy close to Mozambique. Her sense of peace and tranquility evaporates when her ex-boyfriend Richard Lowell (Nathaniel Buzolic) shows up during his hunt for some killer bull sharks.
Not only does Emma need to contend with her ex, but also these bull sharks are the spawn of Bella, an amphibian genetically modified to be smarter than the average fish. That makes the offspring more deadly, so Emma, Richard and the rest need to fight for their lives.
When I reviewed Sea 2, I noted that its plot came perilously close to remake territory. While differences existed between the 1999 and 2018 films, both used storylines that felt more similar than they should.
That said, at least Sea 2 boasted an actual plot, derivative as it may have been. Sea 3 barely attempts any form of narrative beyond “here come the sharks!”
Oh, Sea 3 thinks its offers more than that, mainly via conflicts between the respective camps represented by Emma and Richard. To the surprise of no one, the latter come with secret motives, so tensions arise.
Dull tensions, that is, as we never care about the characters or their fates. All seem like generic, one-note characters who lack anything to make them engaging.
Some rudimentary development occurs, but the filmmakers never appear all that interested. They toss out the bones of character information but don’t show much investment beyond the absolute basics.
In a pandering attempt to seem meaningful, Sea 3 opens with a hamfisted environmental message. As much as I agree with the concepts discussed, the film fails to integrate its social commentary well, so it starts with a less than subtle lecture that turns into poor filmmaking.
If Sea 3 offered some good shark-based thrills, I’d forgive these other errors. Unfortunately, the action seems uninventive and borderline dull.
Sea 3 is so uncreative that it even attempts to repeat the shocking death of the Samuel L. Jackson character from the original film. By this I mean one prominent role dies super-abruptly, a choice that feels less startling and more like cheap self-plagiarism.
Undoubtedly Sea 3 came with a low budget, so I suspect the filmmakers avoided visual effects shots as much as possible to save money. As Steven Spielberg showed in Jaws, a movie of this sort can work well without ample shark footage, but no one involved with Sea 3 boasts the talent to pull off this drama.
It doesn’t help that even when we see the sharks, the CG effects remain wholly unconvincing. I’ve witnessed worse in low budget flicks, but the visuals still look lackluster.
On the positive side, Raymonde runs around in skimpy outfits much of the time, so that provides some thrills. Otherwise, Sea 3 winds up as a dull stab at a shark-based adventure.