- Directors: Wolfgang Petersen
- Writers: Paul Gallico, Paul Attanasio, Mark Protosevich
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Thriller
- Actors: Kurt Russell, Freddy Rodriguez, Josh Lucas, Jacinda Barrett, Richard Dreyfuss, Jimmy Bennett, Emmy Rossum, Mike Vogel, Stacy Ferguson, Andre Braugher, Kevin Dillon
The SS Poseidon, a luxury ocean liner named for the Greek god of the sea, is making a transatlantic crossing.
The opening focuses on an introduction of the main characters. Nineteen-year-old heroine Jennifer Ramsey (Emmy Rossum) and her boyfriend Christian (Mike Vogel) are a young couple hoping to be engaged, but her father, former New York City Mayor Robert (Kurt Russell), has doubts about their relationship. Elena (MÃa Maestro), a traveling stowaway, is going to see her ill brother in New York. She is being helped by Valentin (Freddy Rodriguez), a waiter on the ship’s staff who met her in a club and agreed to smuggle her on board. Dylan Johns (Josh Lucas) is a smooth-talking professional gambler who develops feelings for a woman, Maggie James (Jacinda Barrett), who has a son, Connor (Jimmy Bennett), to whom Dylan grows close to throughout the movie, and Richard Nelson (Richard Dreyfuss) is an architect left distraught by his lover’s breaking up with him.
Most of the passengers are at a New Year’s Eve party in the ship’s ballroom, unaware of the danger about to befall them. However, a depressed Nelson, awaiting a midnight phone call from his ex-boyfriend that never comes, sees a 150-foot high rogue wave in the calm open ocean, heading towards the ship. The wave crashes into the starboard side of the ship, causing it to capsize and killing most of the passengers on its decks. As the ship rotates 180 degrees and submerges from the impact, the windows in the hallway explode from the intense force of the wave, causing water to flood into the ship and it begins to sink.
Calm is restored in the ballroom after Captain Michael Bradford (Andre Braugher) assures the passengers that rescue boats are on their way and will be there in a couple of hours. A small group of passengers (see above) ignore his attempts to keep them in the ballroom and flee, with the bulkhead doors sealing behind them. Due to the buildup of pressure, the water breaks through into the ballroom, killing all those who stayed behind. They attempt to head toward the bow of the ship, where they believe they will have the best chance of escaping the capsized liner. Fighting through many hazards (flooding the ballasts, negotiating an elevator shaft with a table, etc…), they ultimately arrive at the bow and escape through the propeller tube by blowing apart the turbines with a canister of explosive gas. They jump out of the tube and find a life raft as the Poseidon sinks. They then fire a signal flare, and are rescued by Coast Guard choppers.