Sometimes you just have to boil it down to the bare essentials, as a simple premise works a lot better than you would expect it to when you see it play out on paper. "Leviathan" is a fun bare bones sci fi thriller that maxes out the thrills in one of the more dangerous places on the entire planet.
On the dark ocean floor where one mistake can be the difference between life and death, a deep sea mission rig discovers a sunken freighter with a deadly secret that they never would have imagined as they stumble upon a genetic experiment gone horribly wrong. One by one the crew begin to transform into a horrific monster and with a storm brewing over head, the remaining members of the rig team are thrust into a life or death battle against a monster who sole purpose is to kill everything living thing in its path.
While on paper, "Leviathan" just looks like yet another dumb monster movie, it's actually an exceptional dumb monster movie hitting all the right notes exactly as needed and it is just a brilliantly executed film for the genre with a surprisingly good pedigree of people involved.
With director George P Cosmatos at the helm who was best known for "Cobra" and "Rambo: First Blood: Pt 2", a screenplay by David Peoples and Jeb Stuart who gave us "Blade Runner" and "The Fugitive" and creature work from the great Stan Winston this is one of those things that stands as a fantastic piece of B movie filmmaking. It flows at such a magnificent pace and dives us deep into the murky water of the narrative from minute one. The visual effects are top notch for the time and still hold up even today as Stan Winston and his team at the time truly have gone on to make some of the better and more iconic movies of the past 3 years. Cosmatos knows how to direct action and the script from Peoples and Stuart kept the necessary balance of tension and humor as movies like this only work when you are walking that fine line between both. It is a credit to all involved as Cosmatos didn't always have a reputation for being easy to work with but the obvious symmetry between everyone on this project was ridiculously tight and it is surprising that it wasn't as well received as it should have been during its initial run.
Peter Weller was at the peak of his movie stardom during this movie and he plays the reluctant hero well, with just the right amount of hesitation and swagger leading a stellar ensemble cast. It genuinely was an ensemble performance as the like of Hector Elizondo, Richard Crenna, Amanda Pays, Daniel Stern, Ernie Hudson, Michael Carmine and Lisa Elibacher made themselves a family that seemingly laughed, fought and ran away from a monster together. The movie works as a pure piece of storytelling, no one genuinely shines but they all get us to where we need to be in the most efficient and entertaining way possible.
Truly, "Leviathan" is a piece of B movie gold and even though it never quite got the love it deserved back in 1989, it has more than enough supporters now as it will look great in the comfort of your own home for anyone looking for some high quality creature feature fun.
4 out of 5 stars.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are top notch and the special features include the theatrical trailer, interviews with stars Hector Elizondo and Ernie Hudson as well as extensive look back at the top notch special effects.
"Leviathan" is now available on Blu-Ray from all major retailers.