Movie Review: “47 Meters Down” Reaches New Depths Of Terror

“...I was pleasantly surprised at how the filmmakers genuinely attempted originality in a genre that is consistently overflowing with formulaic clichés.”


 

Two sisters vacationing in Mexico are trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean. With less than an hour of oxygen left and great white sharks circling nearby, they must fight to survive.

When you make a movie that just happens to integrate the ocean, sharks, and tension, your film will undoubtedly be compared to “Jaws.” A little unfair really since “Jaws” was released in the summer of ’75 and has had exactly 42 years to uphold its status as a modern classic. I guess it’s unavoidable really, even when movies like “Deep Blue Sea (1999),” and last year’s terrific suspenseful thriller “The Shallows” came out, they were likened to Spielberg’s blockbuster. Give them 40 years to sit and be admired by the masses and you never know, by 2057, they could be the new classics.

“47 Meters Down” begins in Mexico as two sisters, Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt), are vacationing after Lisa’s boyfriend dumped her. Determined to help Lisa mend her broken heart, Kate takes her out to the local nightclub where they meet two young men, Javier (Chris Johnson) and Louis (Yani Gellman) and have a great night dancing and partying. The two guys invite the girls to go swimming with them the next day and Kate accepts their offer. When they arrive at the beach the following morning, however, the guys proceed to tell them that they will be put in a shark cage and submerged in the water, where they will have the opportunity to observe the beautiful but deadly great white sharks.

Kate is all for it but Lisa, understandably, is very hesitant. On the boat trip out to the designated drop point, Kate manages to convince her to take a chance and both girls suit up. Their tanks can give them an hour of breathable air and the boat’s captain, Taylor (Matthew Modine), lowers them into the water. Initially, the two girls are awestruck as the massive sharks slowly begin to materialize from the murky depths but in no time, the cable holding the tank snaps and it plunges to the bottom of the ocean, 47 meters down. Now it is a race against time as the girls, trapped within the cage, must try to strategize as contact with the boat has been cut off. With Lisa injured, and their air running out, it is only a matter of time before the sharks smell her blood, and come hunting for them.

Director Johannes Roberts creates the tension much like Spielberg did before him, by showing very little of the sharks. Just knowing they could be an arm’s length away from the cage, hiding in the murky shadows, especially as the girls realize they must try and escape from the steel enclosure, is enough to strike fear into even the most intrepid divers, let alone moviegoers. The fact that the water at that depth is almost pitch black, heightens the tension even more. I actually found myself trying to figure out how the girls, and the story, would progress from one scene to the next, and I was pleasantly surprised at how the filmmakers genuinely attempted originality in a genre that is consistently overflowing with formulaic clichés. In one of the movie’s best scenes, director Johannes Roberts pays homage to David Twohy’s “Pitch Black,” which itself was one of that picture’s best scenes. “47 Meters Down” does utilize some antiquated elements but then again, in a movie filled with water, sharks, and suspense, it’s almost impossible to be completely original.

Now playing in theaters


 

James McDonald

Originally from Dublin, Ireland, James is a Movie Critic and Celebrity Interviewer with over 30 years of experience in the film industry as an Award-Winning Filmmaker.

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