Monday, November 8, 2010

#94. Dead Calm (1989)

DVD Synopsis: Thriller specialist Philip Noyce (Patriot Games, The Saint) directs three splendid actors – Sam Neill (Jurassic Park), Nicole Kidman (Eyes Wide Shut) and Billy Zane (Titanic) – in riveting performances. Joe and Rae Ingram (Neill and Kidman) do the right thing and rescue the half-delirious sole survivor (Zane) of a crippled schooner. But soon the stranger will plunge the unwary pair into an intense battle of cat and mouse. And life or death.

You can cut the tension in Dead Calm with a knife.  The scenes between Nicole Kidman and Billy Zane are positively nail-biting, thanks in large part to Zane himself.  As Hughie, the deeply disturbed kidnapper who walks a fine line between docility and insanity, Zane is equal parts charming and terrifying.  With Hughie, you don’t know what you’re going to get; one moment, he’s dancing up on deck, the next he’s got his hands around Kidman’s throat, yet regardless of which extreme is in control at any given moment, Zane himself never loses control of the character.  He brings a sort of grounding to Hughie, a sense of stability to a completely unstable character, where the nice guy who likes music is never far from the potential killer.  

Both Kidman and Sam Neill do a fine job as the husband and wife in peril, but it’s Zane who ultimately commands our attention, and it’s because of him that the events of Dead Calm will stay with you for days afterwords.

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Anonymous said...

This was a great movie and Billy Zane at this time was virtually unknown, thankfully his role here took him to stardom which is nice to see.

You even get the see Kidman's hiney in this! That is a good thing. :)

DVD Infatuation said...

Thanks for the comment, and for stopping by.

Yeah, as good as Kidman and Neill were in DEAD CALM, it was Billy Zane who stole the show. He teetered the line between likeability and downright creepiness perfectly.

And yes, you can never go wrong with "more" of Nicole Kidman!

Thanks again.

Dan said...

I really enjoy watching this tense thriller. You're right about Billy Zane...I'm not fond of him usually but he has the right amount of madness in him here.

DVD Infatuation said...

@Dan: I completely agree with you about Zane. Before seeing this film, I didn't think very highly of him, either (his performance in TITANIC was FAR too much; he should have just worn a sign throughout the entire film that said "HATE ME"). Here, he's wonderful.

Thanks for the comment, and for stopping by.