Genre(s): Action/Adventure, Drama, Suspense, Thriller
Studio/Distributor: Universal Pictures, Wayfare Entertainment, Relativity Media
Cast: Richard Roxburgh, Rhys Wakefield, Ioan Gruffudd, Alice Parkinson, Dan Wyllie, Christopher Baker, Nicole Downs, Allison Cratchley, Cramer Cain
Director: Alister Grierson
MPAA Rating: R (language, some violence and disturbing images)
Synopsis: An underwater cave diving team experiences a life-threatening crisis during an expedition to the unexplored and least accessible cave system in the world.
The Bottom Line: With a big name like James “King of the World” Cameron serving as executive producer, you would think that “Sanctum” would be top-shelf entertainment on the big screen, right? Yes and no. While the film displays great visuals and delivers a load of suspense, its downfall is the fact that it tries too hard to be good. “Sanctum” is inspired by true events that happened to the film’s co-writer/producer Andrew Wight, who went cave diving and became trapped with 14 other people in a cave. The entrance collapsed and they had to find another way out. In this story, a group of cave divers led by the no-nonsense Frank McGuire (Roxburgh) have been exploring the Esa-ala Caves in the South Pacific, the largest, most beautiful and least accessible cave system on Earth. The team is soon joined by Frank’s teenage son Josh (Wakefield), American financier Carl Hurley (Gruffudd) and his girlfriend Victoria (Parkinson). However, because of what Frank does, he and Josh don’t exactly see eye-to-eye, leading to friction between the two. Unfortunately, the father-son quasi-estrangement and the tragic accidential death of one of Frank’s team members doesn’t compare to the oncoming change in weather: a treacherous storm which leads to most of the team being trapped inside the cave with no way out. Now, with raging waters to confront, sickness setting in and facing panic & death at every turn, they must travel down to the deepest underwater depths to escape out of the cave alive. The 3D is surpremely effective, the story has legs and director Grierson can have you literally feeling the suspense, but all that changes at certain times during the movie when the cast have to deliver lines that somehow don’t deliver too well. “Sanctum” is a fun popcorn flick that harkens back to the days of 1989’s “The Big Blue” or Cameron’s own “The Abyss”, which was released the same year, but alas, it’s too much of an overachiever to be fully recommended.