The Abyss script
The Abyss (1989)
Synopsis: Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio are formerly married petroleum engineers who still have some issues to work out. They are drafted to assist a gung-ho Navy SEAL (Michael Biehn) with a top-secret recovery operation: a nuclear sub has been ambushed and sunk, under mysterious circumstances, in some of the deepest waters on Earth.

EXT. OCEAN/UNDERWATER -- DAY 3

Blue, deep and featureless, the twilight of five hundred feet down.

PROPELLER SOUND. Materializing out of the blue limbo is the enormous but

sleek form of an Ohio-class SSBN ballistic missile submarine.

INT. U.S.S. MONTANA -- DAY 4

In the attack center, darkened to womb-red, the crew's faces shine with sweat

in the glow of their instruments. The SKIPPER and his EXEC crowd around

BARNES, the sonarman.

CAPTAIN:

Sixty knots? No way, Barnes... the reds don't

have anything that fast.

BARNES:

Checked it twice, skipper. It's a real unique

signature. No cavitation, no reactor noise...

doesn't even sound like screws.

He puts the signal onto a speaker and everyone in the attack room listens to

the intruder's acoustic signature, a strange THRUMMING. The captain studies

the electronic position board, a graphic representation of the contours of

the steep-walled canyon, a symbol for the Montana, and converging with it, an

amorphous trace, representing the bogey.

CAPTAIN:

What the hell is it?

EXEC:

I'll tell you what it's not, it's not one of

ours.

BARNES:

Sir! Contact changing heading to two-one-four,

diving. Speed eighty knots! Eighty knots!

EXEC:

Eighty knots...

BARNES:

Still diving, depth nine hundred feet. Port

clearance to cliff wall, one hundred fifty feet.

FRANK:

(simultaneously)

Still diving, depth nine hundred feet. Port

clearance to cliff wall, one hundred fifty feet.

Tension builds in the attack room as the Montana surges to intercept the

intruder. The exec tensely watches the vector-graphic readout for the side-

scan sonar array. The sub is running uncomfortably close to the cliff walls.

EXEC:

(low, to Captain)

It's getting tight in here.

CAPTAIN:

We can still give him a haircut. Helm, come

right to oh six niner, down five degrees.

HELMSMAN:

Coming right to oh six niner, sir. Down five

degrees.

NAVIGATOR:

Port side clearance one hundred twenty feet

narrowing to seventy-five. Sir, we have a

proximity warning light.

EXEC:

That's too damn close! We've gotta back off.

BARNES:

Range to contact, two hundred. Contact junked to

bearing two six oh and accelerated to... one

hundred thirty knots, sir!

EXEC:

(really freaked now)

Nothing goes one thirty!

Suddenly the control room lights dim almost to blackness.

EXT. U.S.S. MONTANA 5

We see only the effect, not the source, as a large diffuse light passes

rapidly under the sub's hull. Moments later a shockwave, like an underwater

sonic boom, impacts the sub, slamming it sideways.

INT. U.S.S. MONTANA 6

The bride crew are knocked off their feet, as the ship is buffeted.

EXEC:

Turbulence! We're in its wake!

SIRENS. Everyone shouting at once. The power flickers low.

CAPTAIN:

Helm, all stop! Full right rudder!

HELMSMAN:

All stop. Full right rudder. Hydraulic failure.

Planes are not responding, sir!

Power returns in time for the sonarman to get a glimpse at the side-scan

display... AS THE SHEER CLIFF WALL LOOM BEFORE THEM.

HELMSMAN:

Hydraulics restored, sir.

EXT. U.S.S. MONTANA 7

The cliff wall materializes out of the blue limbo off the port bow with

nightmarish slow-motion. The sub slams into it with horrific force, scraping

along and bouncing off. One tail stabilizer is sheared off and the big screw

prangs the wall with an earsplitting K-K-KWANG!

INT. PORT TO TORPEDO ROOM 8

With the outer tube-doors torn off, seawater slams in, busting the inner

hatches. Two-foot thick columns of water, like fire-hoses of the gods,

blast into the room. Everything vanishes instantly in white spray.

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James Cameron

James Francis Cameron is a Canadian filmmaker, director, producer, screenwriter, inventor, engineer, philanthropist, and deep-sea explorer. He first found major success with the science fiction action film The Terminator. more…

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