Waterworld is a 1995 American post-apocalyptic science fiction action film directed by Kevin Reynolds and co-written by Peter Rader and David Twohy. It was based on Rader's original 1986 screenplay and stars Kevin Costner, who also produced it with Charles Gordon and John Davis. It was distributed by Universal Pictures.
The setting of the film is in the distant future. Although no exact date was given in the film itself, it has been suggested that it takes place in 2500. The polar ice caps have completely melted, and the sea level has risen over 7,600 m (25,000 feet), covering nearly all of the land. The film illustrates this with an unusual variation on the Universal logo, which begins with the usual image of Earth, but shows the planet's water levels gradually rising and the polar ice caps melting until nearly all the land is submerged. The plot of the film centers on an otherwise nameless antihero, "The Mariner", a drifter who sails the Earth in his trimaran.
The most expensive film ever made at the time, Waterworld was released to mixed reviews, praising the futuristic setting and premise but criticizing the characterization and acting performances. The film also was unable to recoup its massive budget at the box office; however, the film did later become profitable due to video and other post-cinema sales. The film was also nominated for an Academy Award in the category Best Sound at the 68th Academy Awards.
The film's release was accompanied by a tie-in novel, video game, and three themed attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Singapore, and Universal Studios Japan called Waterworld: A Live Sea War Spectacular, which are all still running as of 2017. Universal Studios Hollywood had closed it down for refurbishment, but had it re-opened in April 2017.
Long after the melting of the polar ice caps in the 21st century, the sea levels have covered every continent on Earth. The remains of human civilization live on ramshackle floating communities known as atolls, having long forgotten about living on land, though believe there is a mythological "Dryland" somewhere in the world.
The Mariner (Kevin Costner), a sole drifter, arrives on his trimaran to trade dirt, a rare commodity, for other supplies. The atoll's residents see the Mariner is a mutant with gills and webbed feet, and decide to drown him in a brine pool. Just then, the atoll is attacked by Smokers, a band of pirates that raid the atoll seeking a girl named Enola (Tina Majorino) who, according to their leader the Deacon (Dennis Hopper), has a map to Dryland tattooed on her back. Enola's guardian, Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn), attempts to escape with Enola on agas balloon with Gregor (Michael Jeter), an inventor, but the balloon is released too early. Helen instead rescues the Mariner and insist he take the two of them with him.
The three escape to open sea aboard the trimaran. They are pursued by the Smokers, and though they escape, Helen's naïve actions result in damage to the Mariner's boat, and he angrily cuts her hair. Later, Helen explains that she believes humans once lived on land and demands to know where the Mariner collected his dirt. He provides her with a diving belland dives with her underwater, showing the remains of a city and the dirt on the ocean's floor, affirming Helen's belief. When they surface, they find the Smokers have caught up to them, threatening to kill them if they don't reveal Enola who is hiding aboard the boat. The Mariner takes Helen and they dive underwater to avoid capture, with the gilled Mariner helping Helen to breathe. When they surface, they find that Enola has been taken and the boat destroyed. Gregor manages to catch up to them and helps rescue them onto a new makeshift atoll with the survivors of the first attack.
The Mariner takes a captured Smoker jet ski to chase down the Deacon aboard the hulk of the Exxon Valdez. With most of the Smokers below deck to row the tanker, the Mariner confronts the Deacon, threatening to ignite the reserves of oil still on the tanker unless he returns Enola. The Deacon calls the Mariner's bluff, knowing that would destroy the ship, but to his surprise, the Mariner drops a flare into the oil. The lower decks of the ship are engulfed in flame and the ship starts to sink. The Mariner rescues Enola and escapes via a rope from Gregor's balloon. As the Mariner brings Enola to Helen, the Deacon manages to grab the rope to escape the sinking ship. He fires upon the balloon, shaking Enola from the balloon and falling back into the ocean, and he quickly rejoins with his men on jet skis to capture her. The Mariner makes an impromptu bungee jump from the balloon to grab Enola before the Deacon can, and the Deacon and his men collide and die in the explosion.
Sometime later, Gregor has been able to identify the tattoo on Enola's back as coordinates with reversed directions. With the survivors' atoll following them, Gregor, the Mariner, Helen and Enola discover Dryland, the top of Mount Everest, filled with vegetation and wildlife. They find a crude hut with the remains of Enola's parents. As the atoll survivors arrive to settle on land, the Mariner decides he cannot stay as the sea calls to him. He builds a new sailboat and departs.
- Kevin Costner as The Mariner
Dennis Hopper as The Deacon
- Jeanne Tripplehorn as Helen
- Tina Majorino as Enola
- Michael Jeter as Old Gregor
- Jack Black as Smoker Plane Pilot
- Kim Coates as Drifter #2
- Robert Joy as Smoker Ledger Guy
- Robert LaSardo as Smitty
- Gerard Murphy as The Nord
- R. D. Call as Atoll Enforcer
- John Fleck as Smoker Doctor
- John Toles-Bey as Smoker Plane Gunner (Ed)
- Zakes Mokae as Priam
- Sab Shimono, Leonardo Cimino, and Zitto Kazann as Atoll Elders
- Rick Aviles as Atoll Gatesman #1
- Jack Kehler as Atoll Banker
- Chris Douridas as Atoller #7
- Robert A. Silverman as Hydroholic
- Neil Giuntoli as Hellfire Gunner (Chuck)
- William Preston as Smoker Depth Gauge Guy
- Sean Whalen as Bone
- Lee Arenberg as Djeng