This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 27th February 2011
Who needs aliens, cyborgs or even a 40,000-tonne steamship when you’ve got Mother Nature as your opponent? James Cameron throws his name behind a film he neither wrote nor directed, continuing his obsession with exploring the potentially deadly elements of planet earth. Sanctum is “inspired by” rather than based on a true story, thus allowing for the usual hallmarks of an all-thrills, no-talent action movie.
The mainly Aussie cast (plus the Welsh Ioan Gruffudd, destroying any credibility built by his excellent performance in Amazing Grace by hamming it up here as an arrogant financier) wastes no time in abseiling down into a huge cave in Papua New Guinea with the intention of diving “where no man has shone light before”. As a storm breaks above
them on land, the group becomes trapped and has to find a new way out. Needless to say, they’re not all going to make it – and so the usual quest narrative begins as each adventurer is picked off.
The cliché-ridden script is banal at best and painful at worst, written as it is by two novices (one of whom is the man behind the true story). As a result, the acting is often am-dram. But what begins as a one-star film is surprisingly resuscitated by the action – for however predictable the outcome might be, the execution does deliver some genuinely exciting moments.