OK, so next time we’re down in the islands, shark cages are definitely out!
47 Meters Down (or Johannes Roberts’ 47 Meters Down as the opening credits call it, which is a unique move for an unknown director) finally answers the question “What’s it like to get stuck at the bottom of the ocean beside a hungry shark?” If you guessed “Not fun!” you are correct, but let’s face it, deep down everyone keeps a sadistic streak as black as a great white’s eyes. From the comfort of a dry theater seat with plenty of oxygen, fun is exactly what this movie is.
Fun, but surely idiotic. The dialogue written by Roberts and Ernest Riera is so basic and slowly delivered it’s as if they anticipated the needs of friends watching together planning to shout back at the screen. “I’m so scared!” “The shark almost got me!” and “That is, like, the biggest shark!” are just a few of the howlers that Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) inanely volley, as if we aren’t able to see anything for ourselves.
The two sisters are vacationing in Mexico (“Come on, it’s Mexico!” Kate reminds Lisa when it’s time to go out and party, offering just enough specificity to stop you from wondering where the heck these two gals are), and while Kate is having a blast, Lisa is in the dumps. Her offscreen boyfriend just dumped her because she was “no fun,” so this trip will prove him wrong. 47 Meters Down argues that the best way to win back a man’s heart is to post social media pics from a cage near some sharks.
Some handsome locals they met at the resort bring them to a sketchy tourist boat run by Matthew Modine, and once they are assured nothing could possibly go wrong, everything goes wrong.
Cables snap and their cage ends up (ahem) 47 meters down and pinned by a weighty metal winch arm. Just outside a swims a shark all hopped-up on the chum, and ready to chomp their lithe, exposed legs. Storywise, what follows is what I like to call the Cinema of Aggravation. Before they can do X, they gotta first do Y, but that leads to the problem of Z. Each new task sparks a setback, and while Moore and Holt aren’t exactly what I’d call award-caliber thespians, the inserts of their depleting air tank gauges and frightened whimpers are enough to keep each sequence stressful.