Deep Blue Sea 3 (2020) [Digital]

The “Deep Blue Sea” movie series seems to be veering slowly away from the campy nonsense that was the original and headed more in to Peter Benchley lite fare. For a movie that followed the silly shark fest with Sam Jackson, this is a surprisingly straight faced and dull second sequel. There’s nothing really here, save for the usual riffs on “The Deep,” “Aliens,” “The Abyss,” and only a very small connection to the sequel, which had a very small thread tied to the original Renny Harlin cult classic. It’s all fairly standard killer shark fare.

Emma Collins, an eminent marine biologist, and her crew have set up a mid-ocean laboratory over a sunken island town in the ocean where they are observing the first known Great White mating area. Unfortunately, the enhanced Bull Sharks that escaped in “Deep Blue Sea 2” are also there with their own evolutionary goal: cross-breeding with the bigger faster Great Whites. The mission’s patron, Richard Lowell, believes that the Bull Sharks contain the key to intelligence enhancement, which he secretly intends to sell for big profits. Now, Emma and her crew are trapped on crumbling stilt houses mere feet over the ocean, caught between predators above and below the water.

Once again there’s a research facility, once again there are a myriad characters all of whom are merely set up to die, once again there is the heroine struggling to eliminate the shark menace, and as always there’s the shifty corporate shill who has plans of his own. He wants to take the shark’s genetic material and use as a means of selling them to—I don’t know—foreign governments to make an army of anthropomorphic sharks? In either way, once the big non-twist comes, it becomes about conservationists fighting pirates, and the sharks only play background dressing.

“Deep Blue Sea” had the big appeal for being so shark-centric, but fans of the original might be saddened to see that the sharks don’t have nearly enough screen time. And they don’t have much character for that matter. Most of the time, they’re either obstacles, or convenient plot points that step in at the right moment. Emma fights a pirate that’s attempting to cut off her oxygen underwater—shark! The courage Shaw is fighting and losing to a henchman and—Shark! Dirk Blackman’s screenplay conjures up vague ideas of characterization and exposition, delivering a diverse cast of heroes and antagonists that never expand beyond their functions in the story.

Pogue’s sequel has the thin façade of being socially conscious with the heavy overtones of global warming driving the narrative, but all of those ideas are lost in mediocre acting (Reina Aoi is a stand out, at least), mediocre action, and a final scene that shamelessly rips off “Jaws.” If anything, the direction by Pogue and the production quality is miles above “Deep Blue Sea 2,” but it never amounts to anything more than late night cable fodder you might catch between bouts of insomnia.

Now Available on Digital, and will be Available on Blu-Ray Combo Pack and DVD August 25th.