J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, June 16, 2017

47 Meters Down: Mandy Moore vs. Sharks

Seriously, why didn’t they just go whale watching? They could have been safely drinking coffee and eating scones on-deck. However, Kate thought her sister Lisa needed to become more adventurous, so she cajoled her into some shark-cage-diving. She might just fix her permanently in Johannes Roberts’ 47 Meters Down (trailer here), which opens today nationwide.

Lisa has just been dumped by her longtime BF for being a fuddy-duddy, so Kate took his place on the vacation her sister had planned. Kate decides a little shark-cage-diving will be good for what ails her, especially since they will be joining two very single fellow tourists on the S.S. Rickety Barnacle, skippered by the Captain Ron-like Taylor. Shrewdly, he doesn’t waste money on extravagantly strong cable, allowing him to pass the savings on to you.

For about ten seconds, Lisa and Kate ooh and ah at fish. Then the cable slips a little and bam—47 meters down, baby. At this point they are in a world of hurt. Good old Taylor just chummed the water so its shark central out there. They only have about an hour of oxygen under the best of circumstances, but it is depleting more quickly due to panic and exertion. Plus, their scuba coms are only in range around the 40-meter mark, so someone will have to swim up seven meters to talk to the boat.

As set-ups go, Roberts and co-screenwriter Ernest Riera put the sisters in quite the pickle. This is definitely a B-movie, but it is still pretty compelling to watch the shark-bait siblings struggle to survive. Although a few scenes are a bit murky, most of Mark Silk’s underwater cinematography is rather spectacular. However, the ending is bound to be divisive. Viewers who manage to emotionally invest will most likely get angry, but those who are only there for the shark show will just say the heck with it.

Mandy Moore and Claire Holt do almost all of their acting wearing diving masks, but to their credit, they are convincingly freaked out. Frankly, as Captain Taylor, Matthew Modine spends so much time explaining the Bends and nitrogen narcosis, he could probably do safe-diving PSAs in his sleep. Roberts opts to keep him largely off-camera as the disembodied voice they hear, so we never see Taylor up-top, worrying about the scathing Yelp reviews the sisters will write if they survive. As for the sharks, they are big.

It is definitely sharks—plural. Unlike Jaws 4: The Revenge, there is nothing personal here. Lisa and Kate are just trapped (and eventually bleeding) amid a whole mess of jabber-jaws. Obviously, it is no accident 47 Meters is opening in mid-June. It is nothing fancy, but it delivers “beach read”-style suspense, without even scaring viewers away from the beaches. Recommended as a drive-in, bonehead-distraction kind of movie, 47 Meters Down opens today throughout the City, including the AMC Empire and the Regal Union Square.

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