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The Abyss (1989)

PG-13  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi  |  9 August 1989 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 124,776 users   Metascore: 62/100
Reviews: 375 user | 80 critic | 14 from Metacritic.com

A civilian diving team is enlisted to search for a lost nuclear submarine and face danger while encountering an alien aquatic species.



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Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jammer Willis
J.C. Quinn ...
'Sonny' Dawson
Captain Kidd Brewer Jr. ...
Lew Finler (as Capt. Kidd Brewer Jr.)
George Robert Klek ...
Ensign Monk
Dick Warlock ...
Dwight Perry (as Richard Warlock)
Jimmie Ray Weeks ...
Leland McBride


An American nuclear submarine encounters an alien species, which coincidentally causes massive electrical and hydraulic malfunctions, causing the sub to crash into an underwater cliff and sink. The navy asks the workers of a nearby underwater oil rig who are joined by a number of navy SEALS to locate and investigate the cause of the crash. As the crew embark on their mission, they encounter a number of difficulties and discover that they may not be alone. There is something else down there. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A place on earth more awesome than anywhere in space. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for language and some scenes of action | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

9 August 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Abyss  »

Box Office


$69,500,000 (estimated)


$54,222,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (special edition)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Ed Harris has publicly refused to speak about his experiences working on the film, saying "I'm not talking about The Abyss and I never will". The only register with Harris speaking about his experiences doing the movie is in the documentary Under Pressure: Making 'The Abyss' (1993). Similarly, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio said "The Abyss was a lot of things. Fun to make was not one of them." See more »


When they find the Montana, it looks like it's tilted (banked) to one side by about 50 degrees or so. A few shots later, it looks more like 70 or 80 degrees, and in the interior shots it looks more like 20 or 30 degrees. See more »


[first lines]
USS Montana Captain: Sixty knots? No way, Barnes. The Reds don't have anything that fast.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the cast list, Super Seal Rover is credited as Big Geek and Mini Rover Mk II is credited as Little Geek. These are the actual models used for the unmanned submarines. See more »


Referenced in StarCraft: Brood War (1998) See more »


The Walk To The Gas Chamber
From The Seventh Sign (1988)
Music composed and performed by Jack Nitzsche
Courtesy of Tri-Star Pictures, Inc.
Published by TSP Music, Inc. administered by EMI Music, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Epic original sci-fi adventure with a lot of heart, action, suspense, and brains
5 July 2005 | by (Vulcan) – See all my reviews

The Abyss is one of my all-time favorite sci-fi films. It mixes hard science with abject fantasy to make moral and philosophical points about the human condition and our place in the universe without the usual clichés. And it does so with good dialog, strong characterization, and intensely emotional acting. Harris and Mastrantonio are absolutely electric together and dominate the screen, but the entire cast deserves plenty of credit. The production itself is mesmerizing despite its vast scale and tastefully used special effects. The film is long, but worth every second of the experience, and the slightly lengthier, more detailed Special Edition version is even better than the original.

Ostensibly, this is a film about first contact with non-terrestrial intelligence. But the story allegorically deals with an amazing array of themes common to great dramas - violence, love, capitalism, war, courage and cowardice. The hardest, most obedient soldier in the film, played spectacularly by Michael Biehn, is a coward, and a man who is hopelessly in love with his estranged wife (Harris) turns that love into an act of suicidal heroism which might unintentionally save the world. And yet nothing is exactly as it seems to be, and there are really no spoilers in this review. There are so many subtle and sensitively developed themes in this film that it is hard to imagine a more epically human drama in the sci-fi genre. Even so, this is a film which entertains at every level, and will satisfy the action fan as much as the wannabe film critic. ;-)

Most of the film takes place on an experimental submarine drilling platform owned by a petroleum company. A nuclear sub has been lost in "the abyss" - a subduction trench near the Caiman Islands - after encountering an impossibly fast object. Soon, the US military commandeers the platform and its command ship - The Benthic Explorer - to attempt a rescue mission. As everything begins to go wrong, and the encounters with strange phenomena continue, the Navy SEAL in charge of the rescue attempt begins to crack. Meanwhile, on the surface, accusations concerning the sub are escalating between the USSR and USA, and nuclear war seems immanent. This describes just a small segment of the deliciously complex plot that unfolds in The Abyss. You'll have to see it to enjoy the rest.

17 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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The extended ending is stupid tlhouser88
Good film but doesn't quite hit the bullseye! BrickNash
This movie is so..... boring? TheSelfProclaimedNerd
Any info on a Blu-ray release yet? fletch37
Rank Camerons Films ufodoubleg
The Resuscitation Scene nuajer
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