47 Meters Down
47 Meters Down (2017)
★★★ / ★★★★
Occasionally unintentionally funny, shark attack picture “47 Meters Down” offers a good time for those simply wishing to turn their brains off and watch a pair of American tourists attempting to avoid becoming fish food prior to being rescued. With a short running time of less than ninety minutes, it provides enough solid suspenseful moments and thrills even though it delivers exactly what is expected out of the sub-genre. In a movie like this, either one slowly pulls one’s limbs closer to one’s torso or one is bored by the usual beats.
The picture might have been improved upon had the screenplay by Johannes Roberts and Ernest Riera amplified the competition or tension between otherwise close sisters Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt). There is a wonderful exchange, when both are forty-seven meters at the bottom of the sea, when Lisa admits to Kate that she often feels not good enough when they are compared side-by-side. Lisa is the elder, boring sister while Kate is the more exciting of the duo, one who gets the attention of all the boys without effort. Although a terrifying situation bringing people closer than ever is a standard move, it might have paved the way for deeper character development. Both Lisa and Kate are likable.
The shark attacks are swift, commanding a sense of urgency in an enclosed space or otherwise. Similar films tend to excel at one or the other. I enjoyed it most when either sibling decides to get out of the cage either to get signal for the transmitter so they can call for help or acquire a critical item for survival. One cannot help but to squint a little harder at the background due the possibility of the shark appearing right behind the heroine. At times certain familiar camera angles are utilized to create false alarms and we exhale from relief. But comfortable moments do not last long.
I found it rather impressive that the leads must act underwater for more than half the picture. Since their faces are covered with oxygen masks, they must express their emotions in other ways, such as employing body languages that are exactly right for the situation—while swimming—and providing a balance between subtlety and exaggeration in voice acting. More observant viewers will recognize these difficulties or challenges while others may simply ignore them altogether because it is a shark movie and it is supposedly all about the buckets of blood and body count.
“47 Meters Down,” directed by Johannes Roberts, provides a daring ending that is certain to divide viewers. Although it takes some scientific liberties, I enjoyed that it is willing to provide final ten minutes that is different, darkly comic, with a whiff of irony. Awful films within the sub-genre simply end in silence with no survivor, blood painting the screen red.