47 Meters Down FILM REVIEW


47 METERS DOWN

Director: Johannes Roberts

Screenplay: Johannes Roberts and Ernest Riera

Starring: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine, Chris Johnson, Yani Gellman, Santiago Segura

Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense peril, bloody images, and brief strong language

Running Time: 1 hours 29 minutes

** out of *****

Photo: Entertainment Studios

Sisters Kate (Claire Holt, left) and Lisa (Mandy Moore, right) prepare to go cage diving with great white sharks in 47 METERS DOWN.

There's something unsettling about the prospect of being eaten alive. Worse still is finding yourself in a situation where not only do you not know where an attack may come from but your only means of escape will leave you vulnerable. Just reading those two sentences will undoubtedly have a reader's imagination spinning worse case scenarios and raise the obligatory "what would you do" questions. Whatever your mind may conjure will certainly be far more terrifying that what is presented in the new shark thriller 47 METERS DOWN.

When it comes to shark movies they have to come from one of two camps. Either they are played for laughs, like the SHARKNADO franchise, or played seriously, like JAWS. Sometimes you may be able to find a delicate balance between the two camps as Renny Harlin did with DEEP BLUE SEA. Johannes Roberts' film certainly aspires to be taken seriously like the Spielberg classic but it is ultimately hampered by predictability and asinine character actions. In the film, two sisters, played by Mandy Moore and Claire Holt, vacationing in Mexico go on a cage diving adventure and things go terribly wrong. Their cage malfunctions and drops them on the sea floor. Now sharks are swimming between them and the surface. More importantly is they have a limited air supply. It's important to conserve oxygen. It's a pretty basic principle that seems to be lost on these two characters as they carry on conversations throughout the film. It's kind of hard to overlook this basic fact and thus destroys any suspension of disbelief the film can try to muster.

The main reason anyone would want to see this film is of course the sharks and discovering if the characters will survive or not. Roberts' and his visual effects crew do deliver a number of effective shark moments. There are moments where it looks like they blended actual shark footage with the performers and then there are moments where they look blatantly CGI. The 2010 film THE REEF seamlessly blended actual shark footage with the performers and that created a truly hair-raising experience. 47 METERS DOWN doesn't come close to that. Another problem the film faces is SHARK WEEK. That annual week long event provides viewers with so much information that they could almost pass for amateur shark experts. The programs really examine shark behavior, how they attack and what they can or cannot do. Last year's THE SHALLOWS ran into that problem when the shark began doing things real sharks simply do not do. The sharks in this film are of the same ilk and the film looses a significant edge because of it.

The performances are fine for what the material requires. Moore and Holt aren't breaking any new ground when it comes to people in jeopardy. However, the only time any real concern was felt for the characters was when they were swimming outside the protection of their cage. Ironically one should be concerned for them in regards to the oxygen problem but since they seem to be okay carrying on conversations in between the hyperventilating and screaming there really is no need to worry. Matthew Modine certainly got the short end of the stick as his character is eventually reduced to being a mere voice on the radio.

At a brisk 89 minutes the film does start to slow down when its pace should be quickening so it may not even pass as a suitable time killer. For the most undemanding viewers 47 METERS DOWN will probably be a fairly serviceable thriller. It is certainly better than JAWS: THE REVENGE, then again many films are, but is out of its depth when compared to more contemporary films such as THE REEF or the OPEN WATER films. For some brief moments it has bite but ultimately it proves to be rather toothless.

Rating Scale:

***** = Outstanding ****1/2 = Excellent **** = Very Good ***1/2 = Above Average

*** = Good **1/2 = Mediocre ** = Fair *1/2 = Poor * = Bad 1/2* = Abysmal

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