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By Ron Wells | August 2, 1999

Amazingly, Warner Bros. and director Renny Harlin have teamed up to accomplish something I thought they’d never do: Learn from their mistakes.
Dr. Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows) and Dr. Jim Witlock (Stellan Skarsgard) are searching for a cure for Altzheimers. Sharks, virtually unchanged for millions of years, never suffer from brain degeneration, so the scientists want to harvest a hormone from the brains of the beasts.
Normal sharks can’t produce enough so Dr. McAlester makes the decision to genetically alter some sharks illegally. After an incident where a shark escaped, billionaire backer Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson) will pull the plug unless he sees some results.
Franklin arrives at the remote research facility, Aquatica (originally a WWII submarine base) just as no one but a skeleton crew is around for the weekend and a storm comes in. As you might guess, the test for Franklin doesn’t quite go as planned. The sharks seem to have become.smarter. WHY!?!? WHY MUST THE DAMNED SCIENTISTS TAMPER WITH FORCES BEYOND THEIR CONTROL?!?!? A shark wrangler with a shady past (Thomas Jane) may be the only one who can save this motley band of scientists. Help may also lie with chef “Preacher” Dudley (LL Cool J). Once Dudley realizes he’s a black man in a horror film, he’s determined not to go out like a stupid white guy. Severely unhappy meals ensue.
If distinctly uneven CGI, minimal originality and overly convenient plot devices turn you off, this may not be your film. If you want to watch Renny Harlin overcome his temporary insanity brought on by his defunct marriage to Gina Davis and employ genuine suspense and tension to motivate the creme-of-the-crop of international indie film actors, you may be shocked that the director of “Long Kiss Goodnight” and the studio behind “Wild, Wild West” didn’t find an easy way to screw up the film. If only Julia Roberts and Garry Marshall could have been red-shirts on this mission, it might have been a masterpiece. Still, LL Cool J and Thomas Jane (are you looking for the new Steve McQueen? HE’S RIGHT HERE) keep the movie rolling. As it was, I was becoming concerned the studios couldn’t even produce an entertaining action film anymore. Now, at least, men across the country have a reasonable date alternative to “Runaway Bride”.

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