One Time Only
I like Mandy Moore. She was great as the prima donna vocalist in American Dreamz. However, she puts her lungs to more effective use in Johannes Roberts’ 47 Meters Down. The latter was originally destined for VOD (Video on Demand). Yet the success of Jaume Collet-Serra’s 2016 shark thriller The Shallows inspired Entertainment Studios to go the cinema route. It was a wise move.
Briefly, 47 Meters Down follows two sisters. There’s Kate (Claire Holt), the thrill-seeking younger sibling to Lisa (Mandy Moore). The latter appears happy enough but she’s actually in crisis. Her long time relationship floundering, she’s vacationing in Mexico with her sister. Meanwhile, two friendly locals establish an immediate rapport with them. Before Lisa knows it, they are on the high seas, ready to experience close encounters from the safety of a shark cage.
The conceit proves to be durability. As such, 47 Meters Down works fine on the first pass. However, a stern requirement for all great films must be the need to return. Sadly, Roberts doesn’t give us a reason.
While I cannot criticise Mark Silk’s underwater cinematography, the opening sags a little. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, I simply wanted more sharks. Those that we see bear the ingratitude of anonymity. Where Steven Spielberg teased us with Jaws and made it work, 47 Meter Down carries scant personality. It’s as though Roberts and co-writer Ernest Riera forgot to add the important stuff. Meanwhile, jump scares feel relatively scaled down, a last minute compromise that costs the film more than the budget can compensate.
A word on music: many composers including Trevor Rabin, Chuck Cirino and Marco Beltrami have tested the shark infested waters. Reigning over them all must be John Williams’ Oscar-winning Jaws. Da-Doom! How far those two notes have come! Meanwhile, tomandandy tackle 47 Meters Down minus a scuba tank. Their perpetual keyboard comes across as the naff equivalent of bargain basement amateurism.
Crucially, there are some good things to take away here. For example, Moore conducts herself well. It might not be her finest turn, yet she’s playing someone whose bravery proves definitive. Additionally, Holt seems very good, though I suspect there are more colours to her rainbow.
If 47 Meters Down fails to please, I recommend the eBook Shark Weak: The Worst Shark Movies Ever Made. It’s hilarious!
(Released by Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures and rated "PG-13" for sequences of intense peril, bloody images and brief strong language.)