Dead Calm

A thriller filmed in ‘Scope near Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, directed by Phillip Noyce (Newsfront) and coproduced by George Miller. The plot concerns the dark events that unfold after a couple on a sailing yacht (Nicole Kidman and Sam Neill) encounter an enigmatic and crazed lone survivor from another ship. The screenplay by coproducer Terry Hayes is based on Charles Williams’s novel of the same title, a book that also served as the basis for an unfinished Orson Welles film known as The Deep, shot in the late 60s. The main problem with this adaptation is that it takes a suspense story that is already stripped down to essentials and jettisons practically everything that gives it psychological interest. What results is a semiserviceable if formulaic thriller that steadily becomes more contrived and ludicrous, ending with a resurrection out of Fatal Attraction that is silliness incarnate. A depressing sign of decline from a director who once showed some promise. (JR)

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