Some of the most rattling recitals are the ones rooted in myth and lore. Some of the most chilling escapades take place in the middle of the ocean. Where there’s no one watching.
On the salvage boat "Arctic Warrior", captain Murphy (Gabriel Byrne) leads a crew of experts that search the seas for abandoned vessels needing a haul back to shore. The job pays well, but pays better when the stranded ship is an ancient artwork. Like the "Antonia Graza".
Rumored to have simply disappeared off the ocean, this 1954 cruise liner is sighted by a pilot, Jack Ferriman (Desmond Harrington), who clues the crew on its whereabouts and joins them on the search. Once they bump into the phantom boat and get onboard, the group discovers a fortune more alluring than the old vessel, but evil impediments, remnants of an eventful past, make sure the prize is awarded only once the winners are dead.
Of the many tales told of sea, events of stranded ships devoid of people are perhaps the most intriguing, conjuring theories that always border on the supernatural. Using the same yarn to spin this tale, director Steve Beck ("Thirteen Ghosts") builds on fiction, using vivid imagery and animated sequences as brick and mortar. The ominous interiors of a rusty, moss-carpeted craft, coupled with rain-soaked desolateness, hammers in the tacit warning of "no place to run". With a crew of motleyed personalities, from the sedate Gabriel Byrne and the equable Julianna Marguiles ("The Newton Boys") to the rambunctious Karl Urban, there is sufficient drama sans the surreal sets.
Opening with a must-see scene-setter, the film walks the fine line between slick filmmaking and bile-raising picturization, though the unpleasantness is little and far between. There is a definite story that saves this from being another gory flick resting on the rouge of blood alone. While the end is a reminder of at least two other sea-struck films, it falls rather flat, as if, stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea, writers Mark Hanlon and John Pogue decided to let the finish go to hell.This article was first published on 10 Dec 2002.