Deep beneath the Pacific Ocean, 36,000 feet down in the Mariana Trench, 316 people work the Kepler Mining Station, among them engineer Norah Price, underwater for so long she has no sense of day or night, only of her duties and the pressure on the walls of the complex, situated near the Roebuck Drilling Station where the real work goes on.
With rumours already circulating on the currents of strange happenings in the area denied by parent company Tian Enterprises, the Kepler hit by a shockwave, seventy percent of the sections flooded and collapsed by the pressure, but Norah is able to find survivors, Rodrigo, Paul, Emily and Liam, and together they make their way to the escape pods where they meet the injured Captain Lucien but find the pods already launched.
Instead they must traverse the sea bed to the Roebuck and hope they are able to find it intact, but not only are their suits damaged but some of their number are inexperienced in underwater excursions, and they discover the other pods did not make it to the surface, that an unidentified species of parasite possibly released by drilling through a hydrothermal pocket now shares the dark waters of the trench with them.
Directed by The Signal‘s William Eubank from a script by The Babysitter‘s Brian Duffield and The Legend of Tarzan‘s Adam Cozad, it is difficult to judge on what merit Underwater was greenlit for production as a major motion picture, for certainly it could not have been on the basis of Personal Shopper‘s Kristen Stewart typically understated attempt to reinvent herself as a Ripleyesque survivor navigating her way through peril and fighting the menace of angry sushi.
Lacking the wonder of The Abyss or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or the tension of The Wolf’s Call, Deadpool‘s T J Miller demonstrates his ability to be an annoying bubblegum chewing manchild even at depth, while Iron Fist‘s Jessica Henwick, 10 Cloverfield Lane‘s John Gallagher Jr, The Circle‘s Mamoudou Athie and The Monk‘s Vincent Cassel are wasted as Haversham, Smith, Nagenda and the stoic Lucien.
A premise given no thought beyond the immediate needs of the action, from the misconceived design of the base, all concrete and wide square corridors with no pressure doors or attempt at waterproofing electronics, to the predictable stages of the escape and the eventual reveal of the Lovecraftian mega-monster, focused on moving forward across the sea floor Underwater never pauses to questions behind why anything is happening or make it remotely interesting, the shape of angry water diluted to the point that any threat is homeopathic proportions.