Directed by: Ron Scalpello
Starring: Danny Huston, Joe Cole, Matthew Goode, Alan McKenna
Somewhere off the Somali coast, a deep sea vessel sends four divers 650ft to the bottom of the ocean to perform an emergency repair an oil pipeline, just before a storm is due to hit the ship. As the men complete the repair, disaster strikes – their diving bell is cut off from the ship and they are stuck on the seabed. As their oxygen starts to run out, they must make the difficult decision of waiting to be rescued or making a very perilous journey to the surface without decompressing.
Pressure is a film which deals with ordinary people put into an extraordinary situation. Four men are sent to the bottom of the ocean – Mitchell (Goode) is in charge, Engel is the most experienced diver, Jones is “the kid” following in his dad’s footsteps and Hurst is a burnt out loose cannon. They aren’t the most harmonious group of blue-collar workers and each is carrying their own set of emotional baggage.
The production values of the film are very high indeed. All of the underwater scenes were shot in the water stage at Pinewood studios and really convey the loneliness of being so cut off from the rest of the world. Meanwhile the interiors were shot in a very claustrophobic diving bell set.
The film gets a lot of mileage out of its premise. Who can deny the terror they’d feel to be trapped in such a way? Luckily for the most part these are highly experienced people who have probably been in a hairy situation or two in their careers – all except Jones, who is on his first deep dive. You get an inkling how dangerous their situation is when Jones’ tooth almost explodes because there’s a tiny air pocket trapped beneath a crown.
The underwater scenes are suitably dark and murky but you can always see what is going on and what people are trying to do. There are some nice shots of the bell from a distance, a lonely beacon of light amongst the dark, to help convey the isolation of the setting.
As mentioned, each character is carrying a lot of emotional baggage with them, which helps give them some depth. Jones has a pregnant girlfriend and is fretting about becoming a young dad, while Hurst is full of regret about the fact he’d neglected his fatherhood duties. Mitchell’s relationship with his wife is summed up in his inability to reach her, only ever managing to contact her answer message. Engel, meanwhile, has a much darker backstory, as can be seen early on when he flashes back to juxtaposed images of his partner.
There are some very tense moments throughout the film. Luckily for the viewer, the crew don’t have the luxury of sitting around waiting to be rescued as their air will run out before hand. Instead they have to push themselves mentally and physically to survive, and there are moments that reminded me very much of Apollo 13 in this regard.
Pressure makes the most of its premise and delivers a thrilling story with strong production values.
7 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)