Ship Ahoy, matey! Although not all cinematic boat trips end with death and carnage, many of them result in – or are impacted by – life threatening situations. Mark Fraser looks at 10 instances when staying on land turns out to be the wiser choice.
10. Juggernaut (Richard Lester, 1974)
While holidaying on a luxury liner (the SS Britannic) in the middle of the Atlantic, the trip suddenly goes sour when it transpires that a disgruntled madman has booby-trapped the ship and is now promising to sink it if he doesn’t get paid a $1 million ransom. Fortunately the authorities bring in a level headed Irish bomb disposal expert and his team to save the day. Sure – a major disaster is averted, but it still turns out to be a fairly teeth gritting experience for all on board, especially when one of the bombs detonates while being disarmed.
9. Carlito’s Way (Brian De Palma, 1993)
An evening trip along New York’s East River to rescue a gangster from Rikers prison barge sees you ending up with a contract on your head after the boat’s coked up skipper kills both the mobster and his abrasive son under the naive assumption that he can make the whole thing look like an accident. You also appear to be operating in some kind of time warp given all this takes place in 1975, but the barge isn’t docked there until 1992.
8. Déjà Vu (Tony Scott, 2006)
Catching a ferry across the Mississippi in New Orleans proves to be more trouble than it’s worth when the vessel is blown up and sunk by a domestic terrorist, killing most on board. Luckily the local constabulary has access to a rudimentary time travel technology and is able to send an agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms back to make sure the disaster is averted. Unfortunately he sort of gets killed in the process.
7. Triangle (Christopher Smith, 2009)
When a yachting trip with some friends goes disastrously wrong, you climb on board a passing ocean liner under the impression you’ve been saved. Oddly the vessel is deserted, except for the killer on board who starts knocking everyone off. Then, to really confuse things, it turns out you’re the murderer – plus you are caught up in some kind of strange time loop.
6. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher, 2008)
Your first job when a “young” man is working on a tugboat for a half-crazed, heavy drinking Irish captain. Admittedly you get to see some of the world – plus you enjoy a fling with a married woman – but you also find yourself getting caught up in World War II after your battle hungry skipper decides to take on a German U-boat during what is ultimately an impromptu suicide mission.
5. Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass, 2013)
No amount of preparation, or deceptive tactics for that matter, can stop a small group of determined Somali pirates from ship jacking your container vessel off the African coast and then taking you hostage. Although no one forces you to walk the plank or get dressed up as a handsome cabin boy, things do become a little tense when your armed hosts get a bit edgy after their khat supply starts running out. Come to think of it, you look like you could do with a stiff drink or three following this harrowing ordeal.
4. The Perfect Storm (Wolfgang Petersen, 2000)
The commercial fishing season doesn’t go your way, so you decide to go back out to the deep blue yonder to see if you can improve on your catch. And, for a brief moment, it seems the gamble is paying off when you hit a motherload of fish. Unfortunately you also run into a massive storm on the journey home during which your boat is capsized – and subsequently sunk – by the brutal ocean swell.
3. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)
After venturing a healthy distance from the shore to hunt down a murderous great white shark in a fishing vessel (named Orca) captained by a half-crazed Irishman, the stark reality of your situation finally sets in: you are going to need a bigger boat! Although the persistently hungry beastie gives you a good run for your money, you are finally able to blow it to bits with the help of a rifle and pressurised scuba tank just before the badly battered Orca completely sinks.
2. The Poseidon Adventure (Ronald Neame, 1972)
New Year’s Eve completely goes to pot when a 90 foot tidal wave capsizes your luxury liner somewhere in the Mediterranean just after midnight. Along with some of the other surviving passengers – including a headstrong priest, a bossy cop and his ex-hooker wife, a dispensable waiter, a precocious kid and his hot sister as well as a loud, overweight Jewish grandmother and her constantly anxious-looking husband – you make your way up to the stern of the ship’s hull, which is now the only part of the vessel that’s sticking out of the water. Fortunately the boat doesn’t roll back over before sinking – something that happens in both the 2006 remake of the film (Wolfgang Petersen’s Poseidon) and a Mad Magazine adaptation of the movie (called The Poop-seidon Adventure) published shortly after its initial 1972 release.
1. Titanic (James Cameron, 1997)
April, 1912: you manage to score a ride on the maiden voyage of the world’s largest, ritziest, state-of-the-art luxury liner. There is just one problem – the hype surrounding this majestic vessel (that it is unsinkable) turns out to be entirely untrue, a sad fact you discover only after it fatally clips an iceberg and starts sinking in the freezing waters of the north Atlantic. On a grimly positive note, you do get to witness first hand one of the most momentous maritime disasters in human history.