47 Meters Down: Uncaged

As is readily apparent on this site,we have a soft spot for shark movies. We even see the bad ones, although I have to admit, I’ve missed a few of the “Sharknado” sequels. Two years ago there was a fun surprise when a movie which was saved from straight to video got a theatrical release and “47 Meters Down” turned out to be a modest hit. It was also a solid summer shark feature with an interesting premise, the perspectives of the shark attacks will be underwater rather than on the surface. Here we are two years later and it is time for a sequel of sorts.

Director Johannes Roberts returns to the subject of sharks underwater with a different cast and modified premise. So the only thing that you need to know from the original film is that there are sharks, otherwise the two stories are completely unrelated to each other. This one starts off with a pretty standard high school girls story. A awkward outcast is tortured at her new school by a Queen Bee and her minions. Her step sister refuses to step in and a tension filled family dynamic is set up. The father in the blended family, played by John Corbett, is an archaeologist, working on a sunken Mayan set of ruins. He attempts to have the two reluctant sisters bond over an expedition to a Great White Diving experience, but the more popular sister’s friends have a different plan in store and in an attempt to try to bond, the reluctant sister accompanies the group of friends. It turns out that one of the girls is dating the Dad’s assistant and he has shown her the access point to the underwater caverns. You can pretty much guess what happens from there.

The four girls all seem interesting and are stereo-typically cute, and they engage in the sort of group think behavior that would be likely in those circumstances. The underwater sequences are filmed in a supposed maze of ruins with a Mayan alter in the center. The girls believe their father is operating on the far end of the site so they think they can get away with this expedition. Cue the sharks. Oh and by the way, they are not just sharks. Since they have evolved in an enclosed area, their are sightless. That’s right, the threat will come from blind shark, Great Whites in particular. The second threat, which is a repeat of the premise in the original film, comes from the dwindling air supply of the four girls. Modern radio systems seem to allow the girls to speak to one another or anyone else in range while underwater, so that eliminates the need for a lot of pantomime or hand signals. They can scream in fear and offer narrative exposition as necessary.

So a combination of disoriented divers, cave ins, strong currents and of course blind sharks, are used to create the suspense of this film for the rest of the run time. The logic of what is happening is not exactly credible, but it is way ahead of “Sharknados” and as a result, real tension does build up. There are plenty of jump scares and a few moments of release, but like all films that involve jeopardy in nature, there is always one more thing that can go wrong. Let me assure you that plenty of people die from shark attack and that the visualization is effective if not as horrifying as the deaths we saw earlier in the summer in “Crawl”.

forty_seven_meters_down_uncaged

The alligator movie is a lot better than this film is, but I am not asking too much of this, just that it entertain me with shark related peril for a while, it does that. The director is competent in making the underwater action thrilling is not always entirely plausible. The four actresses have some TV credits and a couple of movies but they are largely fresh faces. Two of those fresh faces however belong to families that you are likely to know. Sistine Stallone, who plays the bratty friend makes her film debut in this movie, following a path blazed by her father, who you all know as Rocky. Corinne Foxx, the slightly older step-sister is the progeny of actor Jamie Foxx. After they are all underwater, it is hard to evaluate any of the actresses on their thespian skills, but no one makes the kind of misstep that would otherwise ruin this slightly preposterous nature thriller.

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