The Abyss

  • 15
  • James Cameron (1989)
  • US
  • 133 min
Film Review
Reviewed By
3 out of 5

For some, this was James Cameron's Waterworld, a bloated, sentimental epic from the king of hi-tech thrillers. Some of the criticism was deserved, but it remains a fascinating folly, a spectacular and often thrilling voyage to the bottom of the sea. Ed Harris stars as the leader of an underwater team working for an oil company that is pressed into service to rescue the crew of a crippled submarine. But they soon begin to wonder if they are the only life forms in the vicinity. Harris is great in a rare leading-man role and there is first-rate support from Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, as his estranged partner, and The Terminator's Michael Biehn, as the unstable marine commander. Cameron excels in cranking up the tension within the cramped quarters and the effects are awe-inspiring and deservedly won an Oscar. It's only marred by being overlong and by its sentimental attachment to aliens.

Plot Summary

Science-fiction thriller starring Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. While patrolling off the Cuban coast, an American nuclear submarine encounters a mysterious unseen force travelling at great speed. In the ensuing confusion, the vessel sinks 2,000 feet on to the ledge of an abyss. The crew's only hope of survival is a team of underwater drillers led by a tough foreman.

Cast and crew


Bud Brigman
Ed Harris
Lindsey Brigman
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Lieutenant Coffey
Michael Biehn
Catfish De Vries
Leo Burmester
Alan "Hippy" Carnes
Todd Graff
Jammer Willis
John Bedford Lloyd
"Sonny" Dawson
J C Quinn
Lisa "One Night" Standing
Kimberly Scott
Lew Finler
Captain Kidd Brewer Jr
George Robert Klek
Christopher Murphy
Ensign Monk
Adam Nelson
Chris Elliott
Michael Beach


James Cameron

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
20th Century Fox Film Co. Ltd
Available on video and DVD
Certificate 15