During a savage typhoon, the crew of a salvage tug discover a seemingly deserted Russian military vessel. Everton (Donald Sutherland), the tug's captain, and Kit (Jamie Lee Curtis), his navigator, manage to restore the power, only to discover a surviving scientist who begs them to turn the power off and abandon the ship. It then emerges that the ship has been taken over by a hostile and elusive alien lifeform determined to destroy the 'virus' that is mankind.
In this fast-paced, sci-fi/horror shoot-'em-up based on the Dark Horse comic book, Jamie Lee Curtis
plays the navigator of an ocean-going tug. When a typhoon cripples their boat, the crew sails into the eye of the storm, where they discover a high-tech Russian communications and research vessel adrift. Only one Russian crewmember is still alive, raving about "intelligent lightning." They soon discover that an alien life form has taken over the ship's computers and is churning out biomechanical warriors. With their own boat destroyed, the crew must battle the creature as the ship reenters the storm. If the basic story and characters all sound familiar, it may not surprise you that producer Gale Anne Hurd's other films include The Terminator
This movie and its derivative screenplay aren't nearly as good as those were, and director John Bruno (who won an Oscar for best visual effects for The Abyss
) seems more skilled at action choreography and special effects than character and story. Curtis plays another variation on her "scream queen" persona, while Donald Sutherland
gives a deliciously hammy performance as the tug captain (in his words, "the dominant life form") who smells salvage money if he can claim the Russian ship for his own. For all the picture's flaws, the effects are good (and gory) and it moves at top speed for a brisk 100 minutes. A trivia factoid: at one point on this troubled production, film footage was seized at the airport because the shipping box was prominently marked with the film's title! --Geoff Miller