In general, I like movies about sharks.
Obviously, there’s the classic, JAWS (1975), the best movie about a killer shark ever, but there have been a few other enjoyable shark movies as well, although admittedly not very many. I thought last year’s THE SHALLOWS (2016) was rather fun, and even the subpar sequel JAWS 2 (1978) had its moments.
But most of the movies about killer sharks have been pretty bad. Today’s movie 47 METERS DOWN (2017) joins that list.
Sisters Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) are vacationing in Mexico, enjoying the beaches and basically getting away from it all. Specifically, they’re there because, as Lisa tells her sister, her boyfriend has broken up with her, claiming that he got bored with their relationship, and she thinks taking this trip will show him that she’s not so boring after all. Really? I think Lisa would be better served if she dropped her loser of a boyfriend and found someone else rather than trying to impress a guy who dumped her for being boring.
Anyway, the film wastes valuable minutes early on setting up this back story which is a waste of time since the audience knows exactly what this movie is about and isn’t sitting there at this point thinking, Gee, I wonder what’s going to happen next? We know exactly what’s going to happen next. The film easily could have opened with the sisters on the boat getting ready to dive into the water inside the shark cage. Instead, we have to sit through a dull opening back story before the sisters finally meet a couple of fun loving young men who convince them to take the shark cage tour under water.
The boat belongs to Captain Taylor (Matthew Modine), and although the sisters still have reservations about taking the cage underwater, the two guys go first and they come back up without incident. I found this plot point strange. They’re there on a date. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for Lisa and Kate to go underwater with their respective dates rather than with each other?
Anyway, Lisa and Kate do go underwater, the sights including a large shark, are fabulous, and for a brief moment they are happy they made the trip, but then the line breaks and the cage falls to the ocean floor, which is 47 meters down and well out of range for their radios, and so they are not able to communicate with Captain Taylor. To do so, Kate has to leave the cage and swim up into the shark infested waters to reach Taylor by radio.
And the waters are full of sharks, and so the rest of the movie is about the sisters trying to survive long enough to be rescued.
This sounds like a very exciting movie, but strangely it is not. The whole thing is all rather flat.
You’d think that a tale about two women trapped in a shark cage underwater surrounded by sharks would make for one relentless thriller, but that’s not what happens here. Instead, there’s some rather uninspiring direction by Johannes Roberts. And there just isn’t much suspense here.
The film also struggles with realism. While I’ve seen worse CGI effect, the sharks don’t look all that real. I never believed that these women were being hunted by real sharks.
I also never felt the fear that these women should have felt. They might have been stuck in an elevator for all I knew, rather than in a shark cage. Their emotions were never that intense.
Part of this is the script by director Roberts and Ernest Riera. The dialogue is hardly memorable, and the sisters get stuck saying things like “I don’t want to die!’ and “Help us!” There’s definitely a lot of whining going on. I wanted to see them react and fight to survive.
The two leads, Mandy Moore as Lisa and Claire Holt as Kate are adequate, but when they go underwater and they’re wearing their oxygen masks, which is for the majority of the movie, their personalities become like their faces, hidden by water and their masks. I thought they grew increasingly dull as the film went along.
And Matthew Modine, seen last summer as the questionable scientist Dr. Martin Brenner in the hit Netflix TV show STRANGER THINGS (2016) is wasted as Captain Taylor. We hardly see him in the movie at all. For most of the movie we just hear his voice over the radio, saying things like “Don’t leave the cage,” “We’re coming to save you,” “Stay in the cage,” “Do you have any threes? Go fish.” Okay, that last quote isn’t real, but it could have been. That’s the kind of emotion Modine displays as Captain Taylor.
I was really surprised at how dull this film was.
Maybe Lisa’s boyfriend had the right idea after all.