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Here's what the low-budget potboiler Deepwater has going for it: A surprisingly good cast, some really solid cinematography, and an excellent musical score.
Here's what works against the flick: An intermittently slow pace, plot twists that are sometimes predictable and/or loopy, and a story that feels like it fell out of a 1989 made-for-cable movie.
A young drifter rides the back highways of the midwest, yearning silently to own an ostrich farm. He comes across a nasty car accident, and helps save an old stranger from a nastier explosion. The two become pals of a sort, so the older one invites the younger one to be a handyman at his seedy motel, oh, and be sure not to look at mah purty wife. Yeah, that kind of story. Pretty soon we're dealing with sweaty adultery, crooked cops, dangerous criminals, and acts of attempted murder.
Basically, Deepwater is not the freshest or most unique story ever told -- nor is it the lamest iteration of the tale, either. First-time writer/director David Marfield (working from the novel by Matthew F. Jones) approaches his hard-boiled neo-noir crime story as if it's the first time it's ever been told. One respects the intent, if not the entire result. To his credit, Marfield gets the most from a colorful cast...
Lucas Black is the perpetually-manipulated drifter; Peter Coyote his new boss and "friend." And the familiar faces don't stop there. Mia Maestro, Kristen Bell, Michael Ironside, Xander Berkeley, Lesley Ann Warren, and Dee Snider (!) all bring some small dose of color to the proceedings, which feel consistently familiar, but never downright boring.
Special mention to Scott Kevan's slick and evocative cinematography, in addition to Charlie Clouser's enjoyably intense musical score. On a technical level, Deepwater is a whole lot better than most direct-to-video crime thrillers; it's just that this particular story's been done to death by this point.
Video: The widescreen anamorphic transfer is quite strong, with only a little grain here and there in the darker scenes. Heck, if the transfer stunk, I wouldn't have noticed how good the flick looked.
Audio: A perfectly serviceable DD 2.0 track. As a big fan of Charlie Clouser's music, I wouldn't have minded the 5.1 upgrade, but the track sounds solid.
There's a 5-minute behind the scenes piece in with interviews by Marfield, Kevan, Clouser, Coyote, and producers Chris Coen and Chris Correlli, as well as one deleted scene and a trailer.
Well-shot, well-cast, and well-intentioned, Deepwater ultimately suffers from a bad case of The Familiars. This kind of story has been stretched out and abused by countless cable movies and jiggle flicks, but to its credit, Deepwater looks, sounds, and feels like a well-made movie. If you don't mind being re-told a tale in colorful fashion, definitely give it a rental.