7.5 out of 10
Release Date: 21st August 2015
Cast: Danny Huston, Matthew Goode, Joe Cole, Alan McKenna, Ian Pirie, Gemita Samarra with Daisy Lowe and Paul McGann (voice)
Writer: Louis Baxter, Alan McKenna and Paul Staheli
A great little thriller for fans of derring-do under the sea. Much like last year’s Black Sea, the ocean floor takes on alien qualities as survival becomes crucial and our protagonists get cut off from the outside world. Movies like this have much in common with sci-fi movies in that danger lurks around every corner and death claws at the edge of each frame. The isolation is palpable and rising panic is often infectious as outside elements (water / poisonous air) threaten to end all life in no short order.
In Pressure‘s case, a diving bell is dropped to the ocean floor. It contains four engineers / deep sea divers. They have to complete the job quickly because of an incoming storm. Predictably the bell becomes cut off leaving it’s four occupants to problem solve a way to back to the surface. The actors are all solid and well cast. First off we have Danny Huston (THE CONGRESS) as the seasoned operative, Matthew Goode (STOKER) (inexplicably sporting a weak American accent) is the underexperienced leader, Joe Cole (THE SECRETS IN THERE EYES) is the rooky and Alan McKenna (WAYLAND’S SONG) is the drunken soak with issues. Experience clashes with authority and youthful improvisation leads to plot twists and turns. Being set predominantly in one setting the movie never bores and you easily caught up in the desperation of the situation. As the cast predictably dwindle so do the odds of survival and as much of the film plays over real-time it adds to the fear factor.
Director Ron Scapello expands on his debut which was another drama about danger in enclosed spaces, prison drama Offender. His lead, Joe Cole returning here as the most impressive of the four actors who turns his fear to his advantage as he uses it practically in order to live. The cinematography and economic soundtrack are both brilliant. It’s a solid movie which deserved a wider cinema release than the one it got as it goes blow for blow with it’s larger American, similar, starrier competitors..
Unlike a lot of disaster movies, like World Trade Center, Everest and The Martian, Pressure refuses to fall back on the ‘meanwhile at the rescue centre / families hanging on the telephone wire for news’ prop. I personally find those scenes a distraction and the tension just drains out of those films because of that release from the action. The momentum is slowed and I don’t really care about those out of the line of fire. The soapy Castaway and the superior The Grey and All Is Lost realised this to their story’s advantage. However, here we get the obligatory, Timotei advert flashbacks of dead girlfriends. As their watery grave beckons these flashes take on a significance, thus earning their place in the story, but nonetheless, until their presence is explained they are pretty annoying. Who thinks about their exes, dappled in sunset-dappled light? Not sure I do. Characters in movies always do.
I can’t fault Pressure, except for two things and they both involve the uniformly excellent Matthew Goode. One is plot related, the circumstances surrounding his ‘exit’ are a bit too convenient in the dramatic stakes and his rotten accent. There’s no need for it. It’s a British film, he’s English. Danny Huston‘s American but chooses to use no accent. Some actors just can’t do accents, Matthew Goode is one of them. It’s distracting but luckily the film is strong enough to paper over this flaw.
7.5 out of 10 – A solid thriller with sound solutions and a good knowledge of how underwater survival works and just how dangerous a life at sea is. Never turn your back on it.
Read Matt ‘Flippers’ Usher’s review below
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Danny Huston: The Last Photograph, Wonder Woman, Frankenstein (2015), Big Eyes, The Congress, Hitchcock, Stolen, Boxing Day, Wrath of the Titans, Made In Dagenham (voice), The Conspirator, Robin Hood (2010), Edge of Darkness, X-Men – Wolverine, How To Lose Friends and Alienate People, 30 Days of Night, The Kingdom (2007), Number 23, Children of Men, Marie Antoinette, The Proposition, The Constant Gardener, The Aviator, Birth, Silver City, 21 Grams, Hotel (2001), ivansxtc, Timecode 2000, Anna Karenina, Leaving Las Vegas, The Maddening (dir), Mr North (dir), The Human Factor
- Matthew Goode: Birthmarked, Guernsey, The Sense of An Ending, Hatton Garden Job, Allied, Self/Less, The Imitation Game, Belle, Stoker, Cemetery Junction, Watchmen, A Single Man, Leap Year, Brideshead Revisted, Imagine Me & You, Match Point
- Joe Cole: Woodshock, Peaky Blinders (TV), Green Room, Secret In Their Eyes (2015), The Falling, In The Blood (2015), A Long Way Down, Now Is Good, Offender, Skins (TV)
- Alan McKenna: The Hitman’s Bodyguard, ABCs of Death 2, Wayland’s Song, Doctors (TV)
- Ian Pirie: Calibre, The Last Photograph, Tommy’s Honour, DaVinci’s Demons (TV), Sunset Song, I Am Soldier, Who Needs Enemies?
- Daisy Lowe: Tulip Fever, Absolutely Fabulous – The Movie, Confine
- Paul McGann: Brakes (TV), Luther (TV), Dr Who – Day of the Doctor, Dr Who (TV), Lesbian Vampire Killers, Gypo, Queen Of The Damned, My Kingdom, Downtime, The Three Musketeers (1994), Alien 3, Afraid Of The Dark, Paper Mask, Dealers, The Rainbow, Empire of the Sun, Withnail & I, The Monocled Mutineer