Thursday, June 15, 2017

47 Meters Down

Some nights, you really just need to see a movie after a grinding day of work, but, not to put to fine a point on it, this weekend's new releases were all kind of unexciting. Between this, Cars 3, All Eyez on Me, Rough Night, and The Book of Henry, you'd think there'd be something where I really looked forward to getting a jump on the weekend and a week where I might not have a huge amount of movie-watching time, but to be brutally honest, with all five of those movies starting at 7pm, 47 Meters Down got the nod for being 93 minutes long.

Indeed, it might be possible that the best part of the evening was the trailer reel. Kidnap, Happy Death Day, and Geostorm all look different sorts of terrible, but they also all look like they are thoroughly unhinged in different ways. Stick a Baby Driver trailer in the middle of that group, and you've got a frantic ten minutes or so, albeit also one where you wonder why at least one wasn't a red-band preview, because I think they all had quick-but-unenthusiastic cuts away from someone dropping an f-bomb. All probably actually have adult-only previews, but apparently this thing was rated PG-13, despite what I was sure was a bit more harsh language than usually allowed and a fair amount of floating fake blood.

Ah, well. Baby Driver just reminds me that there's a bunch of chase movies at the Brattle Theatre this weekend, so even if this is a low point, the highs will be enough to blot it out.

47 Meters Down

* * (out of four)
Seen 15 June 2017 in AMC Boston Common #3 (first-run, DCP)

There are times when it feels like 47 Meters Down was patched together as best it could be around the days when certain resources were available. Like, the pitch was good and the filmmakers really thought they'd have the script in better order by the time they had the use of the tank needed to shoot it, and then maybe they could cover the gaps with visual effects, or when re-recording the dialogue, but they never had everything they needed, and as a result, they're never able to build enough up around the gem of a decent idea to make a particularly good picture. It likely didn't actually happen that way, but if not, things are worse, and the bits that seem bent out of shape to cover something else are just poorly done.

A moderately clever opening scene introduces the audience to Lisa (Mandy Moore) and her sister Kate (Claire Holt); though Lisa had originally planned to go on her Mexican vacation with her boyfriend Stuart, he has left her, leaving Kate to pick up the extra ticket. They meet a couple of guys, who tell them about a charter that will take them out to view sharks from inside a cage, and Kate convinces her more sensible sister to go for it, even though she has no scuba experience. The cage is only supposed to be lowered to 5 meters, but comes loose from the boat and drops to the ocean floor, and even if one could just swim straight up without succumbing to the bends, there's at least one shark in the water.

Once Kate and Lisa have reached the titular depth, you can see why someone would go for the pitch of a real-time thriller with two sisters trapped in a dive cashew on the ocean floor with rapidly diminishing air and sharks above; director Johannes Roberts and co-writer Ernest Riera present the characters and audience with what looks like a puzzle to solve with escape seeming tantalizingly close. The trouble is, in part, that the puzzle-solving aspect is never quite as satisfying as it should be; victories and setbacks both seem to leave the women back at the same spot, without even the illusion of change. The actual action is choppy and cropped as if zoomed in or recut for a PG-13 much of the time, and the effect is much the same as it was for Shark Week a few years ago - scenes that should end with an exclamation point of some sort instead merit a question mark. A little honest gore would go a long way. There are one or two impressive moments where the audience sees what Roberts and company are capable of, good little bits of action that were likely storyboarded in detail well before there was any script.

Full review on EFC.

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