The Abyss

August 9th, 1989


more trailers The Abyss

Still of Ed Harris in The AbyssStill of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in The AbyssStill of Michael Biehn in The AbyssThe AbyssStill of Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in The AbyssThe Abyss

A civilian diving team are enlisted to search for a lost nuclear submarine and face danger while encountering an alien aquatic species.

Release Year: 1989

Rating: 7.6/10 (69,353 voted)

Critic's Score: 62/100

Director: James Cameron

Stars: Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Biehn

An American nuclear submarine encounters an alien species, which coincidentally causes massive electrical and hydraulic malfunctions, causing the sub to crash into an underwater cliff and sink. The navy asks the workers of a nearby underwater oil rig who are joined by a number of navy SEALS to locate and investigate the cause of the crash. As the crew embark on their mission, they encounter a number of difficulties and discover that they may not be alone. There is something else down there.

Ed Harris - Virgil 'Bud' Brigman
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio - Lindsey Brigman
Michael Biehn - Lt. Hiram Coffey
Leo Burmester - Catfish De Vries
Todd Graff - Alan 'Hippy' Carnes
John Bedford Lloyd - Jammer Willis
J.C. Quinn - 'Sonny' Dawson
Kimberly Scott - Lisa 'One Night' Standing
Captain Kidd Brewer Jr. - Lew Finler (as Capt. Kidd Brewer Jr.)
George Robert Klek - Wilhite
Christopher Murphy - Schoenick
Adam Nelson - Ensign Monk
Dick Warlock - Dwight Perry (as Richard Warlock)
Jimmie Ray Weeks - Leland McBride
J. Kenneth Campbell - DeMarco

Taglines: There's everything you've ever known about adventure, and then there's The Abyss.

Release Date: 9 August 1989

Filming Locations: Harbor Star Stage, San Pedro, Los Angeles, California, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $69,500,000(estimated)

Gross: $54,222,000 (USA)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | USA: (special edition)

Did You Know?

During the resuscitation scene, Ed Harris wasn't acting to Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in many of the shots. He was yelling at thin air. During the scenes she did appear in, Mastrantonio stormed off the set because the experience was so traumatic. She learned afterwards the camera was out of film and had to do it over again.

Crew or equipment visible: When Coffey is assembling a sub-machinegun there are only two people in a small room, but a third person can be seen on the right for a moment.

[first lines]
USS Montana Captain: Sixty knots? No way, Barnes. The Reds don't have anything that fast.

User Review

Patience is Required


James Cameron is mostly known for his blockbuster hits like The Terminator(1984), Aliens(1986), Terminator 2:Judgement Day(1991), True Lies(1994), and Titanic(1997). Those films contained fast paced action as well as tense moments of human emotions. One film by Cameron that doesn't seem to get the same kudos as the films mentioned above is the beautifully crafted, The Abyss(1989). A more character driven and humanistic film than any of the blockbuster features of James Cameron. Seeing it in the Special Edition version is the best way because situations and people become filled with more depth. Low Key epic picture that is driven by the excellent acting of its cast. Certain scenes like the reviving and "Bud"'s commuication with aliens moments make the film into an interesting constructed vision of human nature. In some ways The Abyss(1989) follows some ideas that echos The Day the Earth Stood Still(1950). Especially true in the film's message about the dangers of nuclear weapons. Michael Biehn perfects his sterotype persona in The Abyss(1989) as the battle and take charged obsessed Lt. Coffey. Maybe the finest directed feature film James Cameron has put forth. The Abyss(1989) is way better than the overrated and less than average Titanic(1997). Minor weakness is that the film at times drags towards the end. Ed Harris produces a performance of human depth and quality as Virgil Brigman. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Lindsey Brigman is the perfect counterpart to Ed Harris's Virgil Brigman(which is why the two characters make a good couple). The Abyss(1989) is a very good Scifi film from the 1980s that is a pleasure both emotionally and visually to experience.