All images courtesy of Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures
Movies that fully immerse you in the great abyss of the ocean are fascinating. Movies that have monstrous sharks threatening the lives of unsuspecting humans is even better. Combining both of these elements would make for one hell of a movie and 47 METERS DOWN does exactly that. Full of deep sea despair, massive Great White sharks, and a star from This Is Us, the movie delivers some the best jump-in-your-seat thrills, but at the same time, it’s just a series of ignorant decisions made by the characters that will have you rooting for the Great Whites.
There’s nothing like a movie about two upper-middle-class white women on vacation who seem to have exhausted all their recreational options and want to go on an “adventure.” After a night of partying, Lisa (Mandy Moore) and her sister Kate (Claire Holt) get cozy with two handsome Latino men. They tell the girls that they have a friend that can take them shark diving. They gush about the experience and Kate, an experienced diver, is immediately on board. Lisa, on the other hand, is on the fence about the whole thing. Considering they have only known these guys for one night and the fact that they want to take them on this questionable shark-diving adventure, she has a valid reason to be skeptical. When Kate finds out that Lisa is going through a very emotional separation from her husband, she insists that they go on this adventure. Because as we all know, nothing sticks it to an ex-husband like swimming with 20-foot sharks and endangering your life.
When they arrive at the shark-diving site, things immediately look sketchy. There’s this odd, hippie gringo captain (played by Matthew Modine) at the helm of it all and the boat doesn’t exactly look like it’s in the greatest shape. Again, Lisa expresses her concern but Kate basically says, “SUCK IT UP! YOU OWE THIS TO YOURSELF!” They step into the rusty cage and are immediately transported into the tranquil world of ocean life. Lisa’s fears melt away and Kate says, “I told you so!” But then the cage breaks and falls to the ocean floor — 47 meters down to be exact (hence the title). They’re too deep for radio contact, their oxygen supply is dwindling by the minute, and a group of sharks are circling them. Needless to say, things aren’t looking too great for them. On the plus side, their self-inflicted suffering provides nail-biting thrills that are so ridiculous that you have no choice but to laugh.
47 Meters Down isn’t a terrible movie. In fact, it’s highly entertaining. Moore and Holt do a fine job of sitting in a cage on the ocean floor being absolutely terrified of these giant sharks that will waste no time in shredding you to pieces. The movie is dumb fun, but I don’t really know if it realizes that it is. Part of it feels like its trying to have fun with an anxiety-ridden situation, but at the same time, there are moments when it feels like they are trying to make “cinematic art” — but you and I both know that the latter ain’t gonna happen. This is essentially a sister movie of movies like The Shallows which give us a story which tells us that magazine cover-worthy Hollywood actresses can do very physical roles. It’s something that no one really needed to prove.
Johannes Roberts, who is currently at work on The Strangers 2, directed the movie and co-wrote it with long-time collaborator Ernest Riera. The two gave us some solid scares, but it lacks an indie edginess that a film like this calls for. Despite that, it is a wildly entertaining ride of underwater insanity — but from a preventative standpoint, I have some major qualms.
For one, Kate is horrible. Why does is she hellbent on going shark diving? Is she a crazy “Shark Week” fan? Her sister said she doesn’t want to go and she doesn’t respect that. She pressures her into doing something she doesn’t want to do. If they want to go on an adventure, I am sure there are plenty of other alternatives in Mexico that don’t involve life-threatening wildlife. They can go spelunking, zip-lining, or even go out and purchase bootleg copies of movies. Kate practically bullies Lisa into shark diving and it goes horribly wrong. I’m surprised that while at the bottom of the ocean Lisa didn’t slap her for being selfish and forcing her into this terrible situation.
Furthermore, there were more than enough signs for them not to go on this rickety boat. One of the crewmen was chumming the water (that’s when they throw fish guts into the ocean to attract sharks), which is illegal. And just because Lisa was bullied into all this, doesn’t mean she is off the hook. The captain asked her if she had ever scuba dived before. Knowing damn well she had never dived into the ocean with an oxygen tank on her back, she said “Yes!” In fact, the look on the captain’s face signaled that he knew she was lying, but he let her dive anyway. So in this case, he is at fault too. All of them are morons and maybe — just maybe — they got what they deserved. These sharks were just trying to live their best lives and here come some inexperienced “adventurers” coming to ruin their fun just so that they can post some pics on Instagram.
Despite my frustrations and logical analysis of the whole situation, there wouldn’t be a story to tell if Kate and Lisa ended up hanging out poolside for 89 minutes. 47 Meters Down checks all the boxes of a thrilling shark tale and does exactly what its supposed to do: give us a scare and a laugh. Sure, the two main characters make poor life choices, but the audience has a hell of a time watching the consequences play out.
Running time: 89 minutes
Dino watches too much TV, enjoys reality singing competitions and laughs inappropriately during dramatic films. He’s a fan of comedy, podcasts, and comedy podcasts. He’s a reformed comic book geek and thinks “The Goonies” is the best movie of all time. When he isn’t stuffing his face with a burrito, he’s thinking about his next trip to Disneyland.
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Dino-Ray Ramos | Film Critic