“47 Meters Down” (PG-13, 1:29) is 2017’s take on the tried-and-true shark movie sub-genre, but its path to the big screen had more twists and turns than your average Great White’s beach workout.
In 1975, young director Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” created a ravenous appetite among the public for two things – more Spielberg films – and more shark movies. In the ensuing decades, Movie Fans got plenty of both.
“Jaws” wasn’t the first shark movie (see 1971, 1969 and 1936), but its success led to… several sequels (albeit of gradually but steadily diminishing quality), late 1970s imitators (“Mako: The Jaws of Death”, “Tintorera” and “Orca”), some pretty decent and even creative takes on the sub-genre (1999’s “Deep Blue Sea”, 2003’s “Open Water” and 2010’s “The Reef”), silly mutant shark movies (2012’s “Jurassic Shark”, 2013’s “Ghost Shark” and the appearance of zombified sharks in 2017’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”), even sillier shark movies (2015’s “3-Headed Shark Attack”, 2014’s “Avalanche Sharks”, 2010’s “Sharktopus” and, of course, the 2010s’ “Skarnado” franchise) and even the (relatively) kid-friendly (2004’s “Shark Tale”).
But the one which had the most to do with 2017’s shark movie is 2016’s “The Shallows”. The success of that film saved “47 Meters Down” from a planned straight-to-video release by Dimension Films, under the title “In the Deep”. Entertainment Studios purchased it, restored the original name and released it in theaters. Was that a good decision? Read on.
Lisa and Kate (Mandy Moore and Claire Holt) are sisters on vacation in Mexico. Lisa had originally planned the trip for her and her boyfriend, but he recently dumped her for being too boring, as Lisa finally tells Kate. Kate tries to make Lisa feel better by taking her out partying, where they meet two handsome young locals named Javier and Louis (Chris J. Johnson and Yani Gellman).
The guys suggest that the girls come out on the water with them for their weekly cage dive with the sharks. Kate is the kind of adventurous soul who’s up to go down and look at sharks, but the more cautious Lisa needs a lot of convincing. Kate sells the idea by asking Lisa to imagine what her boyfriend would think of the pics.
The next day, even Kate starts to have misgivings about the excursion. The boat that Javier and Louis lead the girls to doesn’t exactly inspire confidence and its captain (Matthew Modine) seems willing to cut corners when he accepts Lisa’s claim that she has gone scuba diving before (even though she’s obviously lying) and then he lets his crew add chum to the water to attract sharks (even though that’s illegal).
Lisa tries to back out, but Kate convinces her to go through with it. After Javier and Louis go down in the cage and come back up safely, it’s the girls’ turn. Lisa and Kate have spent just a few minutes underwater marveling at the sharks swimming nearby when the cage’s cable breaks and it falls to the ocean floor, 47 meters below the surface.
As they fight to survive, the girls have to overcome their fears, injuries, spotty communications with the boat, diminishing air in their scuba tanks and the constant threat of shark attack, making escape from the bottom and rescue from above very dangerous.
“47 Meters Down” is a better-than-average shark movie. The character development is good, the tension is better and the story-telling is the best part of all. Director/co-writer Johannes Roberts manages more twists and action than you might expect on a $5 million dollar budget and basically with a cast of five (all of which do good work).
However, the dialog is often silly or extraneous and some of the circumstances portrayed are unrealistic. This one plays it straight enough to be considered a serious shark movie and enjoyable enough for fans of the genre.
Emphasizing thrills over blood, it’s better than the later “Jaws” movies (and many of the imitators) and almost as good as “The Shallows”. The opening weekend box office for “47 Meters Down” justified the wide theatrical release decision from a financial perspective and most Movie Fans will likely find seeing it justified from an entertainment perspective. “B”.
Source: Dave McClain – imdb