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MFF Data: Analyzing the Moment When Samuel L. Jackson Met the Shark in Deep Blue Sea

July 19, 2019

Deep Blue Sea is one of my favorite movies, and with its 20th anniversary approaching on July 28th, I decided to over-analyze the movie to breakdown the surprise death of Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson). Even if you haven’t watched Deep Blue Sea, I’m 92.434% certain you know about Samuel L. Jackson’s surprise death, because it’s perfect. Here is how it goes down, the skeleton crew of Aquatica, an ocean research facility, are being chased by sharks and infighting has started amongst them. Noticing that morale is getting dangerously low, Franklin interrupts them and delivers a pep talk about how he survived a massive avalanche in the Alps. When he is about to hit the high-note of his speech, a shark comes out of the water and eats him mid-sentence.


I’ve always wondered if the shark waited until the perfect moment to attack during the monologue. Did it purposefully wait until the high-note of the speech, or did it attack because Franklin suggested sealing up the wet entrance? Did it just randomly come across Franklin? To answer these questions, I went back and analyzed the actions of the generation II Mako shark (the 45-foot one) leading up to the classic death. We know the sharks planned the flooding of the facility, so they could escape through the aluminum fencing, which was 8-feet above the water. However, after uber-analyzing their plan, I’ve come to realize just how intricate and well-thought-out it was (The Joker from The Dark Knight would be jealous). I know the sharks don’t succeed, but they tried their hardest to escape the research facility of horrors.

Before I get into Samuel L. Jackson’s death, I wanted to give you a quick overview of the events that transpired before it.

This is a layout of Aquatica. Deep Blue Sea does a great job of breaking down the geography of the facility.

Quick note: The generation II mako was given an extra dose of the smart serum 24-hours before the test. So, it’s REALLY smart during the rushed testing process.

  1. When Carter Blake (Thomas Jane) goes out to catch the shark, it starts taking out the underwater security cameras so the people in the lab can’t track it, AND so they wouldn’t notice that it guided itself perfectly to land on the boarding platform
  2. The 8-ton shark lands PERFECTLY on the boarding platform. Carter Blake is good, but he isn’t good enough to tranquilize an 8-ton shark so it lands perfectly on a boarding platform. The shark is then brought into the wetlab which is located on the second sub-level
  3. The shark isn’t knocked out, it’s playing possum. That’s why it moves when the needles initially go into its head. The shark doesn’t attack Dr. Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows) because they still need to destroy her research (hence the gratuitous attack later in her room), and it knows if it bites her, it will probably die. So, it bites Jim Whitlock (Stellan Skarsgard), knowing McAlester will let it go.
  4. The shark takes out the helicopter and the Aquatica control center with one strategic move. The explosion also starts the flooding of the 1st sub-level
  5. The shark rams the wetlab’s massive glass window with Jim’s gurney (that he is still attached to), which starts the flooding of the second sub-level. Knowing that the 1st sub-level is flooding, the shark then rams open the wetlabs doors to start flooding the 2nd level. This forces the scientists to the third sub-level (so many levels to this plan)
  6. While in the wet entry on the 3rd sub-level, they learn the submersible is destroyed (which is probably a good thing). They think about making a swim for it, but it would end in death. So, they decide to open up a door leading to the elevator, which will destabilize the room and cause tons and tons of seawater to enter. This is what the sharks want. They don’t want the humans swimming because they’d stop flooding the Aquatica. The shark also doesn’t want them to seal up the wet entry either. So, it eats Franklin when he got too immersed in his monologue. Then, the shark knows they will depressurize the area, so it swims away and shares Franklin with its generation I mako companion. When the area is flooded, the shark comes back and knocks open the door, which further sinks the Aquatica.

The shark was waiting for Franklin to arrive at an easily eatable location.


When Russell finally gets into an easy position to eat, it takes 17 seconds for the shark to strike.

Here is the breakdown based on complete guesswork

  1. The shark is waiting for the Aquatica crew when they arrive in the wet entry on the 3rd sub-level.
  2. The wetlab entrance is 45 meters from the ocean floor.
  3. The shark swims backwards to the ocean floor to keep its eyes on Franklin – This takes 10 seconds.
  4. It stops and positions itself – 2 seconds.
  5. it explodes from the ocean floor and covers 45 meters in 5 seconds (29.6 feet per second, 20 miles per hour) and grabs Franklin in its mouth. Mako sharks are known for their insane jumps, so this makes sense. For comparison, here is an article about Great White sharks jumping out of the water.
  6. It swims away and shares the spoils with another shark.


Renny Harlin really wanted to shock audiences with this surprise kill, and he totally did. I love how it makes logical sense, and makes the sharks seem like brilliant masterminds. Hopefully, when you watch Deep Blue Sea again, you appreciate the shark’s plan more, and know how it lead to Samuel L. Jackson becoming lunch.

If you like this random data about Deep Blue Sea. Make sure to check out the other data heavy article I wrote about Jim Whitlock’s gnarly death in Deep Blue Sea




5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 19, 2019 7:50 am

    I really liked this movie…though, I am a sucker for shark films, I still enjoyed the hell out of it.

  2. July 21, 2019 10:21 am

    This was the best moment in any movie. Came out of nowhere and had everyone in the theater jumping in their seats and gasping out loud. Great analysis. I’ve always wondered about the things you listed. Okay, not really, but it was still interesting!


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