When it comes to shark movies, we all know nothing will ever beat Jaws. It’s not just a fantastic film, it’s a rare example of a perfect film. With that in mind, expectations must be kept in check when diving into a film such as 47 Meters Down. Let’s face it, a film starring Mandy Moore and Claire Holt as sisters trapped at the bottom of the ocean surrounded by sharks was never going to be Oscar bait. Thankfully, co-writer/director Johannes Roberts knows this and keeps it from becoming being just another bucket of chum.
Lisa (Moore) and Kate (Holt) are on vacation in Mexico with Lisa trying to recoup from a breakup while Kate has come to party. After Lisa confesses to Kate about the breakup, Kate takes her out for a night on the town. While clubbing, they meet Louis (Yani Gellman) and Benjamin (Santiago Segura) who offer to take them out cage diving with great whites. What better way for Lisa to get payback at her boyfriend than sending him pics of a death defying stunt, right? Unfortunately for them, Captain Taylor’s (Matthew Modine) cage line breaks and now Lisa and Kate are stuck 47 meters down, surrounded by sharks, and only have an hour of air left!
Leave it to critics to try to keep audiences away from 47 Meters Down. It plays to the audience everything they could possibly want in an 89-minute shark survival flick. People in peril, blood in the water, and plenty of sequences to make you squirm in your seat. Is Holt the best actress? Not even close? Were the actresses miscast in their roles? You betcha! While it would have called for some rewrites had the roles been reversed, it’s a little odd to see Moore in such a damsel in distress role. But she’s come such a long way from her teen pop star days that she gets the job done and never comes off as annoying as other actresses could have.
Johannes and co-writer Ernest Riera have concocted a film that’s way better than direct-to-video — it’s originally-scheduled format. While some are trying to rake it over the coals, it probably would have been completely embraced under the other format. With more realistic than usual sharks, a tight runtime, and a breakneck pace, just about the only thing that goes awry is the ending. The film should end a few minutes before it actually does. It would have a far better ending for the tone Johannes was going for. Instead of a twisted Tales From the Crypt/Twilight Zone type of ending, we get a standard Hollywood-test-screened-to-death-ending.
But fear not, it’s never enough to ruin the fun. 47 Meters Down is the type of film that screams my name and I ate up every minute of it. Those going in with the right attitude will have a whole lot of fun. Everyone else can settle for what passes as “sharkainment” these days with the Sharknado series. While that may be dumb and fun, it’s stupid and basic. For the rest of us, 47 Meters Down gives us enough to chew on while we wait for Shark Week to start and reminds us why some are still scared to go in the water.