Renny Harlin’s Deep Blue Sea is a ‘90s schlock classic, an eighty million-dollar shark attack B-movie that succeeds by forgoing the classier (and, by 1999, more predictable) humanist spectacle of Jaws in favor of something far goofier and gorier. While recent entries like 47 Meters Down and The Shallows may have reinvigorated the sub-genre, there was a long period in which Deep Blue Sea was widely considered to be the only major non-Jaws effort to really “work.” It’s surprising, then, that Warner Bros. would take almost twenty years to get a sequel off the ground, and more than a little disappointing that said sequel would be a direct-to-video reboot with only a few loose connections to the original. Bummer though that may be, director Darin Scott’s (co-writer of Adam Riske’s beloved Tales from the Hood) Deep Blue Sea 2 is a legitimately entertaining low-budget curiosity that — while conventional and underwhelming in the broadest strokes — pairs inventive staging with over-the-top character moments to make a Redboxing Special, a film worth exactly the two-dollar rental price. No more, no less.
Carl Durant is the key to Deep Blue Sea 2’s success. He’s an utterly reprehensible lunatic who fears that computer technology is advancing so fast that artificial intelligence will soon overthrow human beings as the dominant species on Earth. Only by developing his serum, he believes, can we retain our hegemony. That’s right — Durant is using mutated sharks as test subjects so that humans can develop Jedi powers and fight robots. He believes he’s completely in control of his sharks, demonstrating the intellectual and managerial prowess of a Very Stable Genius by throwing Aaron into the lagoon and using a mystery widget to repel them just before they reach him. Over the course of the movie, he’ll get higher and higher on his serum and — even as the sharks break free and devour the sinking laboratory around him — marvel at the strength, speed, and problem-solving power of his creations. And honestly, he should: The inciting incident of Deep Blue Sea 2 comes when mama shark Bella overhears Durant outlining his plan to exterminate the sharks as soon as his serum is complete. Looking through the porthole window, her cold, black eyes narrow as she silently vows revenge. No, I’m not kidding. That’s a real scene in this movie. Read it again. I’ll wait.