The Abyss 1989

The Abyss

Critics Consensus

The utterly gorgeous special effects frequently overshadow the fact that The Abyss is also a totally gripping, claustrophobic thriller, complete with an interesting crew of characters.

89%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 46

83%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 110,010

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Movie Info

Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio are formerly married petroleum engineers who still have some issues to work out. They are drafted to assist a gung-ho Navy SEAL (Michael Biehn) with a top-secret recovery operation: a nuclear sub has been ambushed and sunk, under mysterious circumstances, in some of the deepest waters on Earth.

Cast & Crew

Ed Harris
Virgil "Bud" Brigman
Michael Biehn
Lt. Hiram Coffey
Leo Burmester
Catfish DeVries
Todd Graff
Alan "Hippy" Carnes
J.C. Quinn
"Sonny" Dawson
Kimberly Scott
Lisa "One Night" Standing
Alan Silvestri
Original Music
Mikael Salomon
Cinematographer
Conrad Buff IV
Film Editor
Joel Goodman
Film Editor
Leslie Dilley
Production Designer
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News & Interviews for The Abyss

Critic Reviews for The Abyss

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (41) | Rotten (5)

  • Colossally ambitious, this logistically boggling and technically brilliant film from writer-director James Cameron is a visual tour de force, featuring overall, the greatest underwater sequences ever seen on film.

    March 10, 2015 | Full Review…
  • A firstrate underwater suspenser with an otherworldly twist, The Abyss suffers from a payoff unworthy of its buildup.

    June 19, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • The attempt to extract the essences of several genres (cold-war submarine thriller, love story, Disney fantasy, pseudomystical SF in the Spielberg mode) and mix them together ultimately leads to giddy incoherence.

    June 6, 2007 | Rating: 2/4
  • This overlong concoction is scuppered by dire dialogue, histrionic performances and maudlin sentimentality.

    February 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Anyone looking for a discouraging word about this stupendously exciting and emotionally engulfing film should read no further. The Abyss confirms James Cameron as a world-class filmmaker.

    May 12, 2001
  • I'd sooner believe that Moby Dick could swim up the drainpipe.

    January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Abyss

  • Jun 05, 2020
    From James Cameron comes the exciting sci-fi adventure The Abyss. When a Navy submarine is lost a deep sea research team is tasked with assisting in the emergency recovery effort, but during their operations they encounter a mysterious alien life form. Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Michael Biehn lead the cast and give excellent performances. And the special effects are especially good; creating a fascinating vision of the ocean floor and the creatures that inhabit it. Also, the sets are incredibly well-done; giving a real sense of a lived-in, confined underwater space. Additionally, Cameron's directing does an extraordinary job at heightening the tension and suspense. Full of mystery and intrigue, The Abyss is a thrilling journey into the unknown fathoms of the deep.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 17, 2018
    A classic film from James Cameron that I am only seeing for the first time. Engaging and suspenseful, with a great cast. The groundbreaking CG also helps and would serve to be later perfected in Terminator 2. Very enjoyable.
    Ian W Super Reviewer
  • Feb 17, 2016
    [Director's Cut] -- Moments of brilliance only draw attention to what could have been, rather than what is. The focus of the movie on the relationship of the two main characters really eats away at the much more interesting prospect of encountering the unknown.
    Kyle M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 24, 2014
    I hadn't remember this one very well but I still have it in glorious VHS format. I checked the extended version of it, and let's just say it became quite clear what was added or removed. I didn't remember any of the russian tension going on and that awesome wave scene at the end. The Abyss transformed into a great looking, claustrophobic underwater thriller, with a nice alien mistery to a cautionary tale with decent results, albeit heavy handed (this is James Cameron after all). Maybe the whole SEALS business is excused but The Abyss is still a very entertaining and well made sci-fi thriller flick.
    Francisco G Super Reviewer

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