Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water … here comes Johannes Roberts’ watery-peril thriller 47 Meters Down.
In it, two sisters are vacationing in Mexico. Kate (Claire Holt) is lively and fun; Lisa (Mandy Moore) is bummed, having just been dumped by her boyfriend for being boring. At a bar, they meet a couple of cute local dudes, who suggest an excursion on their buddy’s boat, which has a submersible shark cage.
Kate and Lisa make the obviously bad decision to board the sketchy-looking Sea Esta, suit up in scuba gear and climb into the rusty shark cage. (Best rationalization Kate offers Lisa: “Think of the photos.”) The cage is lowered 5 meters into the sea; it’s all fun and fish, and one gal enthuses: “It kinda takes your breath away.” (Some foreshadowing just swam by.)
Then the cable breaks, and the cage and the shrieking women in it plunge to the ocean floor, 47 meters down. (For those who can’t metric: 47 meters is 51 yards, or half the length of a football field.) This is a crisis of multiple anxieties: in a cage … deep underwater … running out of air … sharks nearby. (It had me recalling the Irwin Allen classic Airport ’77: hijackers seize a 747 … crashes in the Bermuda Triangle … sinks to ocean floor … Olivia de Havilland and other aging stars running out of air …)
In their cage, the ladies freak out, calm down, solve some problems, freak out some more, talk about relationships (yes, really) and so on. Roberts does a pretty good job of making this watchable, when you consider the cinematic drawbacks of murky water, two actors wearing masks, and a gimmicky, predictable set-up.
Because as soon as the action drops, thinking folk are back to pooh-poohing this film’s plot-happy disregard for basic knowledge about marine biology, physics and how life is at 47 meters below the surface. (Nobody mentions how much colder the water is.) Gigantic sharks come out of nowhere — boom! They take a nibble on a human, then disappear, like expensive guest stars who can’t be in every scene.
But look, this isn’t “Sharks Do Shakespeare.” The film does deliver tension (double this if you are claustrophobic); a couple of legit scares; some light gross-out material; Chekhov’s spear gun; and a final reel you can talk about. It’s summer, and if seeing a kinda-dumb shark-freak-out movie sounds good, then book this 90-minute cheapie cruise.