Director: Johannes Roberts
Cast: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine, Yani Gellman, Santiago Segura, Chris Johnson
Runtime: 1 hr 30 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Intense Sequences)
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 17 August 2017
Synopsis: They say that a vacation is the perfect opportunity to try new things, to have experiences far removed from the monotony of everyday life. At least that's how Kate (Claire Holt) convinces her sister Lisa (Mandy Moore) to be lowered a few feet into the ocean, inside a rickety metal cage, and come face-to-face with a Great White shark. However when their cage breaks away from the vessel, they find themselves plummeting to the seabed, trapped, surrounded by feverish sharks - and with a rapidly decreasing oxygen supply.
Forty-seven years after Steven Spielberg unleashed Jaws into the ocean, no one has been able to usurp the throne of this iconic shark thriller. Not even it’s sequels and the advancement of technology. While it’s engaging to watch a movie about man versus nature or in this case, man versus shark, it takes more than gore and special effects to setup an effective thriller.
47 Meters Down is modeled in the same genetics as last year’s The Shallows, an intense survival thriller that has Blake Lively battling a CG shark for all of 86 minutes. The former however is essentially a two persons show set in the bottom of the dark, murky ocean bed in which the obvious title already told you.
Sisters Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) are vacationing in Mexico where they are introduce to shark diving by two handsome locals. We are told that Lisa has been recently ditched by her boyfriend who finds her ‘boring’. To prove that she still has what it takes, Lisa is encouraged by Kate to go with her into the observation cage to see the great white. And of course she went along else there won’t be a movie. But when the cable connecting to the cage snaps, the sisters are trapped inside the cage with their oxygen depleting by the minute. And worse, the sharks are circling around them waiting for lunch to be served.
Instead of showing the two starlets busking in designer swimwear, director Johannes Roberts (The Other Side of the Door) opts to set his movie right in the bottom of the ocean in virtual darkness with his two main characters trapped in the ‘safety’ of the cage. This allows Roberts to stage a few jump scares when characters attempt to sneak out of cage to establish contact with the captain of the boat, Taylor (Matthew Modine who provides a voice performance for most of the movie). Remember the fact that they need to swim up to at least 30 meters to talk to Taylor.
Roberts did more than a decent job portraying both the CG sharks and the sisters. The CGI sharks are realistic and brutal given the obviously less than stellar budget. The sisters are no helpless damsels in distress characters even though Mandy Moore has her fair share of scream and bawl. You grow to root for them and care for them every moment they attempt to leave the cage be it to retrieve additional oxygen tank or contacting a fellow rescuer.
If you have no practical knowledge about diving at least Roberts and his co-writer provide a few facts to the uninitiated movie-goers liked the risk of getting the bends (decompression sickness) if you attempt to swim up too quickly to the top and beware also of nitrogen narcosis when you attempt to change oxygen tank because it causes hallucination. Hollywood frequently ignored realism but Roberts at the minimal knows how to effectively tells an engaging story without resorting to far-fetched scenarios.
As the panicky Lisa, Moore (Tangled) sure doesn’t disappoint despite the fact she has not been seen on the big screen for a while and Holt (The Vampire Diaries) is excellent as her gung-ho sister. Without delving too much into the ending, let’s just say the movie ended on a pretty poetic note unlike those typical Hollywood titles in the market. This might be a problem for some but generally 47 Meters Down is a powerful well-made thriller that might deter you from accepting an invitation to shark observation in the ocean.
(The poster shows a B-movie; in actual fact it’s better than expected)
Review by Linus Tee