A review of “Poseidon” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ** 1/2

Rating: PG-13 but could be R for gruesome images of death and violence

Run Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

 

 

Sea-legged fans and land-lubbers alike will spark to this watery action adventure that pushes the limits of plausibility yet reeks of summer fun.

With nary a warning of errant tides or gravitational attraction a 100-foot rogue wave takes down the luxury liner Poseidon, a swanky floating hotel of exceptional extravagance. Caught up in the soggy maelstrom are a handful of lucky passengers who miraculously escape the initial round of drownings, flash fires and toppling pillars of steel.

Leading our small band of merry men (and women) to safety is hunky hero Dylan Johns (Josh Lucas), a professional gambler with an intrinsic streak of valor and fantastic baby blues to match. Dylan matches wits and skill with ex-New York City mayor cum former FDNYer Robert Ramsey (Kurt Russell), whose headstrong daughter Jennifer (Emmy Rossum) is also on board with her affianced beau.

Rounding out the protagonists is perky single mom Maggie James (Jacinda Barrett) and her obnoxiously precocious son, who insist on joining the ranks of those unwilling to stand with the doomed. Illegal Hispanic stowaway Elena Gonzalez (Mia Maestro) adds diversity to the mix as does gay architect Richard Nelson (Richard Dreyfuss) who’s grieving over the loss of his lover to another.

It’s all hands on deck, wherever that is. Bent on maneuvering their way through the ubiquitous blocked passageways and bolted steel doorways (as the ship slowly shifts its way south) our feisty clan overcomes one impossible hurdle after another, perpetually surviving catastrophic misfortune while showing off ridiculously courageous derring-do.

There are moments, genuinely scary ones. A passenger hanging on a human chain and forced to kick off the last man while thousands of pounds of elevator come careening towards his head. The group navigating hyper-narrow air conditioning ducts while the sea rises through, a claustrophobic experience uncomfortably reminiscent of “The Great Escape”.

But I can’t be convinced that a tiny silver cross necklace will screw open a soldered down hatch nor do I believe that the average Joe can hold his breath for minutes on end while swimming under icy seawater through a terrifying tangle of metal and dead bodies.

Pyrotechnics are first class, as are most of the computerized images involving the capsizing ship. Opulent set pieces impress, both intact and fatally fractured. The plot is seriously diluted by an admixture of two-dimensional players spouting clunky confabulation and bringing nothing to the table but testosterone highs and smashing-when-wet good looks.

Reluctant kudos to writer Mark Protosevich and director Wolfgang Petersen (“Das Boot”) for closing a chapter or two with tragic rather than sugar-coated results, as was the case in 1972’s kitschier “The Poseidon Adventure”. Bottom line it’s easier to forgive the sodden clichés and jump on board the nautical roller coaster ride that is “Poseidon”.