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  • Writer's pictureSarah Whiteford

Movie Review: Last Breath

Image Credit: IMDB

Powerful. That’s how I would describe the movie Last Breath. Going into the movie, I knew it was a true story, which left me with a little concern that I was going to see a typical documentary. You know the type, 3 hours of interviews with people who were there, too much background information, very little, if any real footage. What I received was an emotional roller coaster with live footage of a crew whose ship loses its dynamic positioning systems and goes offline with divers underwater in one of the most dangerous areas in the world. I saw the underwater struggle from the eyes of a man stuck 100 meters below the surface on the ocean floor without light. I saw the crew as the ship floated away and the other diver who couldn’t get to him as he was pulled away. By the time the movie had come to a close, I had to take at least two breaks and had shared tears with the crew more than once.

The movie begins with a high level explanation of how divers prepare for underwater work. On a ship with 127 crew members, there are only 12 divers, operating in teams. For 28 days, they live in groups of four inside a small tank barely big enough to stand in, with two small rooms. It’s called saturation diving, and keeps divers under pressure to reduce the risk of decompression sickness. They live, work, and play in this confined area together for four weeks at a time, only leaving to go underwater. The recreation of the environment combined with real footage makes you feel like you’re there with them.

They prepare and go on a dive to fix an underwater structure, and that’s where the build-up begins. During the dive, the ship’s dynamic positioning system goes offline, leaving the ship to float away in the rough seas. Panic combines with fear as the disaster unfolds and the crew struggles to get back to site and retrieve their crewmate. I don’t want to give too much away, but the ride through panic, worry, sadness, and hope is intense. The recreated footage gives the sense of a blockbuster movie, while the actual video and sounds can sink your heart in seconds. Members of the crew walk the viewer through events in real-time, creating a nail-biting situation that literally had me on the edge of my seat, something I never thought I would say about a documentary. Near the end of the movie, it pulls you back in to connect even further with the crew.

This is a true story that delivers more than I expected. The film moves quickly at only 86 minutes in length, and you’ll be glued to the screen. There’s very little humor or action, just an unbelievable story of the struggle of one man to survive, and 126 crewmen doing everything in their power to rescue him.

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