Pressure Review

by Steve Pulaski

Pressure concerns a group of men (Danny Huston, Matthew Goode, Joe Cole, and Ian Pirie), who are submerged in the depths of the Indian Ocean in a small submarine to replace an oil pipeline. However, once their submarine malfunctions, the crew are separated from their base and stuck in the deep waters with no connection to their base and oxygen levels running dangerously low. To survive, the men must conserve their energy and their air in hopes that a rescue team hasn’t completely abandoned them in the ocean.

Pressure is one of the first films in quite sometime to have the gall to take place in one setting, effectively trapping the audience, much like the characters, in a tight, claustrophobic space, giving the audience the feeling of helplessness and peril. The great thing about these films is they open rely on tension and character development being that the setting isn’t changing, so new environments and interactions aren’t always being set up. The downside to this, however, is that when films to choose to focus on stunted dialog and lax character development, these films generally begin to become uninteresting.

Directed by
Ron Scalpello
Danny Huston, Matthew Goode, Joe Cole
Release Date
12 June 2015
Steve’s Grade: D+

Such a thing happens with Pressure; we have four characters, two of which played by veteran actors, and not a shred of human interest to be found. The characters predominately speak in stunted expressions about wanting to be rescued or argue amongst themselves, and when we do begin to learn about their own personal histories, there’s little in the way of conversational realism to attach us.

The film does feature some very nice effects work, specifically on the water and the atmosphere engulfing the ship. The waters are a lighter indigo-color, murky and unrelenting, and scenes when some of the men venture out of the submarine in attempt to swim to shore really exploit the capable effects work in this film. Director Ron Scalpello also manages to create some discernible intensity with the film by having medium-length, extreme close-ups on the faces of the trapped men inside the submarine. While Pressure may lack narratively, and have little to grip one in terms of human interest, there’s at least a commendable focus on the aesthetics in an attempt to try and create a tense setting.

Above all, however, the real bother is a serious lack of any character to root for or invest in, which makes Pressure‘s slender runtime of eighty-eight minutes rather grueling to sit through. The characters are almost entirely vapid, the tension is sporadic and sometimes wholly ineffective, the pace finds itself simultaneously working in a slowburn and a slam-bang manner, and the overall impact is middling to say the least.