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Renny Harlin's first feature since The Long Kiss Goodnight reinvents the rampaging shark movie for the digital age. Echoing Alien and Deep Rising, a typically motley crew is trapped and terrorised in a remote ocean research station incapacitated by storms. Saffron Burrows' scientist has devised a means of using shark brain-tissue to fight Alzheimer's Disease, but it has the unfortunate side effect of increasing by fivefold the intelligence of the station's three test sharks. Once the sharks escape captivity, their captors become prey and Burrows, along with Thomas Jane's diver and corporate sponsor Samuel L. Jackson, are pursued through the station's maze of corridors. LL Cool J also appears as the most unlikely action-movie chef since Steven Seagal in Under Siege, chanting Biblical passages to his pet parrot and choosing the perfect omelette recipe as his message for posterity.
As the bizarre premise indicates, this is not a film for those seeking great acting or rich narrative complexities, but it does deliver action and effects in abundance, particularly with the state-of-the-art computer-generated sharks themselves. While they'll never attain the iconic status of Bruce in Steven Spielberg's Jaws (still the granddaddy of all screen sharks), Harlin's swift predators are clever enough to open doors and operate an oven. As the water level rises, Burrows indulges in some Sigourney Weaver-in-Alien-style disrobing, there is one of the great surprise-death scenes, shocking and funny in equal measure, and all concerned keep their tongues firmly in cheek. This DVD version also features commentaries from Harlin and Jackson, deleted scenes, a "making of" feature and a documentary on sharks. --Steve Napleton