Monday, June 25, 2018

Swimming With the Sharks

There's no better time for a shark attack than high summer. 

Let's do this.

Quick Plot: Lisa (Mandy Moore) is an uptight American on vacation in Mexico with her worldlier younger sister Kate (Claire Holt). In an effort to shed the boring image that got her recently dumped, Lisa reluctantly agrees to go shark cage diving with a pair of handsome townies.

Cue Matthew Modine as Captain Billy Taylor, a laid back sailor whose shifty boat unnerves Lisa but can't shake the spunky Kate. After some illegal water chumming, the girls are suited up and lowered down to experience the wonders of underwater tourism. 

Everything is perfectly Instagrammable until their cage's wiring snaps, dropping them down the titular distance to the bottom of the ocean floor. With a dwindling supply of oxygen and a growing circle of teased sharks, the sisters struggle to survive. 

Written and directed by The Strangers: Prey At Night's Johannes Roberts, 47 Meters Down has the advantage/disadvantage of coming out in the much brighter shadow of ANOTHER PG-13 rated shark attack flick, The Shallows. It's hard to not compare the two, and on that end, 47 Meters Down is the clear loser. Aside from its lack of a seagull sidekick, it's ultimately not as pretty, not as tense, and simply not as interesting.

That being said, the film is...fine. It wisely moves fairly quickly, paring down too much exposition or pre-water character buildup to trust most of the internal dynamics between a pair of close but wildly different sisters. Moore and Holt play their family dynamic clearly, and it's enough to make up for the fact that the characters on the page have little to offer. Look, Blake Lively is no Saoirse Ronan, but she managed to create a clear enough vision of a genius surfer girl who knew how make use of her jewelry. Kate and Lisa are as generic white girls as their names imply.

A sequel is already in the works, and much like the Wrong Turn or Step Up series, I can see this being a case where the lower profile followups end up being far more fun than the original. In the meantime, this is a perfectly suitable time waster, particularly when you want to look at pretty underwater scenery occasionally brightened with blood.

High Points
Like many a human being, I find limited air supply an incredibly terrifying premise, and 47 Meters Down does a good job of establishing these conditions to yield the appropriate audience reaction of feeling unpleasantly suffocated

Low Points
It's hard to say exactly what keeps the film in such mediocre territory, but it's probably a combination of low enthusiasm writing and weird underwater visibility that just keeps everything at a distance

Lessons Learned
Really, we just need one that would have solved the entire issue: never make important life decisions with the sole factor being, "will my ex-boyfriend see these pictures on social media and change his mind about our relationship status." Kids, you've been warned

Eh. 47 Meters Down is streaming on Netflix, which makes it an ideal pick for a gym watch or laundry fold accompaniment. It's pretty to look at and slightly darker than you might expect, but ultimately, I'd rather watch a Gossip Girl target sew up her wounds with her necklace any day of the week.

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