Starring: Sam Neill, Nicole Kidman, Billy Zane
Director: Phillip Noyce
Running Time: 96 mins
Dead Calm is an Australian film about a psychopath who kidnaps and seduces a young woman and leaves her husband for dead in a sinking ship as he sails away on the couple’s private yacht in the middle of the ocean.
This is a simply entertaining and tense thriller. It’s never really that intense, nor does it have a story that you really have to think about, but it’s still exciting to watch, and with some decent performances, it does do a pretty good job at making a pretty preposterous story quite believable.
It’s a great place to set a survival thriller – the middle of the ocean – because it’s so easy to create that sense of being totally lost and without any help, and that really shines through here. It may not be as solitary as All Is Lost, but having just three characters still works pretty well in creating that atmosphere.
Although it takes a while to get into the actual core of the film, due to a fifteen minute-long character establishment phase that didn’t really work or serve much purpose in my opinion, once the thriller aspect of the whole thing starts, it’s a lot of fun.
Because the plot is so seemingly preposterous, this film is one that can really be enjoyed despite having what is at points a pretty depressing and scary story, because you’re never really fearing for the lives of everyone while biting your nails and sitting on the edge of your seat. Of course, it’s still exciting, but that’s just because it’s unpredictable, it’s not the most emotionally taxing thriller that will leave you gasping for breath at every second.
Away from the plot, this film has got some very good performances in it. In a story like this where it’s so solitary, a good performance makes a huge difference, and Nicole Kidman really does a good job, making a swift transformation for her character from a scared girl to a strong young woman, whilst Billy Zane gives a mad but entertaining performance as the psychopath to make it all the more fun.
The only problem that I would have with this film is that it was actually a bit too long. It’s nothing to do with slow pacing or anything, in fact the pacing was very good, however the excessively long opening sequence coupled with a final five minutes that weren’t really needed made for some boring sequences, but on the whole this is still a simply fun and entertaining thriller, so that’s why it gets a 7.5 from me.