Review – A Chick Flick With Teeth (“47 Meters Down”)

As the rights for this movie were changing hands from one studio to another, this film had already been shot, released on DVD (and VOD) and distributed on-line back in 2016 under the title, In The Deep. Oopsie-daisy! Nevertheless, this chick flick meets Jaws had enough teeth to be taken out of the Netflix stream and back on the silver screen. Ah, but was it worth it?

*

Two sisters vacationing at a Mexican resort are given a chance to go cage diving with great white sharks. Sounds like fun, huh? What could possibly go wrong?! That’s the entire set-up and plot of this rather predictable, yet compelling little film about Lisa (Mandy Moore), who has been dumped recently by her boyfriend and is envious of her rock-solid sister, Kate (Claire Holt). The two decide to live it up and, with the help of two suave native boys, they figure that swimming with sharks fits that bill. What, there were no jet ski’s available?

With the help of Captain Taylor (Matthew Modine), Lisa gets a crash-course on scuba diving (Kate’s already a pro) and off they go to meet Bruce and his hungry friends. However, this would be a pretty boring movie if nothing bad happened, right? Naturally, the cable holding their shark cage snaps and down they go, 47 meters straight to the bottom. Panicking, the girls have little air left, their digital communication with Taylor is out-of-range, and those pesky sharks are everywhere. Kate decides to swim half-way up to establish communications and is successful, being told by Taylor that he’ll send down another cable soon to hook them up. Uh… soon?

Meanwhile, it’s time for a snack. Bruce and his buddies periodically show up every now and then to harass the girls as they spot a light off in the murky distance. Could that a rescue light? Lisa swims off to investigate and wished she hadn’t. More panic and shark hijinks ensue as their rescue attempt doesn’t go as well as they hoped for. There’s more panic, oxygen levels at critical, sharks with BBQ sauce swimming by, and two broken girls who are determined not to die. They shoulda stuck to a Universal Studios vacation – at least their sharks are made of rubber!

With a catchy little script by Ernest Riera and director Johannes Roberts (the title card says Johannes Roberts’ 47 Meters Down. Not too self-indulgent, are we?), this very quick 85 minute film has the simplest of set-up’s and exactly what you’d expect for your typical ‘shark-vs-people’ flick, except for a twisty ending, which was a nice change of pace and unexpected. Both Roberts and Riera have, in the past, teamed up and written a few forgettable movies and some short films, but this has some bite (sorry!) to it. Roberts shows some very nice direction, especially with all the underwater footage.

Give credit it to the girls, Holt and Moore, they really held the movie together with their chemistry as sisters and believable dialogue. Filmed underwater wearing full-faced scuba masks and being mic’d adds to the realism, but Geez Louise! Those underwater CG sharks were a bit awkward, except as effective jump-scares. Another fine element in this movie are the lessons you get in diving with informational jargon (exposition) that makes you just a bit smarter about scuba diving. That is, should you ever decide to go cage diving with great white sharks. Me? I think I’ll stick to watching Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.

The Deep (1977)

Peter Benchley, author of Jaws, The Island, and White Shark, seems to have a thing about oceans, diving, and all those creepy-swimming things that eat you under the water. And his novel, The Deep, is no exception. Benchley and writer Tracy Keenan Wynn (1974’s The Longest Yard) adapted his novel and action director Peter Yates (Bullitt, Breaking Away) tried to picked up the tempo from the book’s laborious pace.

A vacationing couple is scuba diving near some shipwrecks off Bermuda and recover some artifacts. David Sanders (Nick Nolte) and Gail Berke (Jacqueline Bisset) find, amongst the booty, an ampoule of some kinda liquid and a medallion bearing the image of a woman with the year 1714 on it. Seeking the advice of treasure-hunter Romer Treece (Robert Shaw), the couple learns that the medallion is part of a never-found sunken Spanish treasure. However, that ampoule attracts the attention of the islands local drug kingpin, Henri ‘Cloche’ Bondurant (Louis Gossett, Jr. sporting a Jamaican accent). Looks like that ampoule is part of a huge cache of medical morphine from the Goliath, a WW2 sunken ship and, here’s the snag, the Goliath is still laded with old bombs!

Bondurant threatens David and Gail with voodoo stuff and tells them to leave his island, but the lure of finding that Spanish galleon and $$$ is too much. Treece makes a deal with Bondurant so they can all dive in peace, making him believe he will get the ampoules for a million dollars, while his real plan is to get to that Spanish treasure underneath the Goliath. Everything goes well, except for that double-crossing Adam Coffin (Eli Wallach) who joins the team to “help” them out. There are dives, sharks, terrors of the deep, and no one trusting anyone.

Treece wants to destroy the Goliath, putting the morphine out Bondurant’s reach, but things go very wrong as Bondurant decides to dive himself and, not only get the morphine, but sabotage the Goliath with a booby-trap. One thing is for sure, you should be careful about giant moray eels when diving inside ships. They get REAL hungry! There are nail-biting underwater fights, nasty REAL sharks and fish (no CGI back in 1977), and that shipwreck they are diving on? That’s a real shipwreck! It’s the RMS Rhone, which sank in 1867 off the coast of the British Virgin Islands.

Although all the diving and underwater stuff is great, the rest of the movie just drags on and on with boring expositional dialogue about old Spanish ships that, I’m certain are crackerjack entertainment on the Discovery Channel, but is just fodder until the cool diving happens and you see Jacky Bisset’s wet T-shirt. I kid you not, that was part of the promotional selling part of the movie; her see-through white T-shirt!

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