The Abyss


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.



Total Count: 44


Audience Score

User Ratings: 109,910
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Movie Info

The crew of an experimental, high-tech submersible is called into action to investigate a mysterious nuclear submarine crash. A series of strange encounters leads the crew to suspect the accident was caused by an extraterrestrial craft, and that they may be participating in an encounter with an alien species. However, in order to make contact, they must not only brave the abyss, an exceedingly deep underwater canyon, but also deal with the violent actions of one of their own crew members, an increasingly paranoid Navy SEAL officer. Approved by director James Cameron, The Abyss: Special Edition is an extended director's cut of the 1989 underwater science fiction epic, reinstating nearly a half hour of footage removed from the original release under studio pressure. Much of the restored footage places the film's events in a grander political context, as the crew's mission becomes a factor in the dangerous escalation of nuclear tension between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The largest change involves the film's ending, which provides further information on the aliens' mission on Earth, bringing the film to closer to Cameron's intention: a modern remake of Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi


Ed Harris
as Bud Brigman
Michael Biehn
as Lt. Coffey
Leo Burmester
as Catfish De Vries
Todd Graff
as Alan `Hippy' Carnes
John Bedford Lloyd
as Jammer Willis
J.C. Quinn
as `Sonny' Dawson
Kimberly Scott
as Lisa Standing
Chris Murphy
as Seal Schoenick
Christopher Murphy
as Seal Schoenick
Adam Nelson
as Ensign Monk
Richard Warlock
as Dwight Perry
Jimmie Ray Weeks
as Leland McBride
Ken Jenkins
as Gerard Kirkhill
Peter Ratray
as Captain
Brad Sullivan
as Executive
Frank Lloyd
as Navigator
Joe Farago
as Anchorman
Phillip Darlington
as Crew Member
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News & Interviews for The Abyss

Critic Reviews for The Abyss

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (39) | 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.

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

    Jun 19, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    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.

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

    Feb 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.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Abyss

  • 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
  • Nov 05, 2012
    After finally getting round to watching it I had allot of mixed feelings mostly to how over long it was and the fact that not a great deal happend but I must admit it kept me gripped from start to finish and the last hour was very good, So if you haven't seen it yet and plan to, Don't expect Avatar in the sea because you will be dissapointed, But overall not a bad movie.
    Jamie C Super Reviewer

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