Movie Review: The Shallows (2016)

“What was once in the deep is now in the shallows”

1 Stars
The Shallows (2016)

The Shallows (2016)


Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Cast: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Angelo Jose

Synopsis: A female surfer finds herself stranded on a rock just 200 yards from the shore, but with a bloodthirsty shark between her and safety.

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You won’t find many movie heroines more independent than former med student, Nancy (Blake Lively), who, although alone because her unreliable friend sank a few too many tequilas the night before, thinks nothing of accepting a lift to a secret, uncharted beach from a swarthy local.   Fortunately for Nancy, Carlos (Oscar Jaenados) defies movie convention by being a nice guy with no secret agenda, as do the two surfers Nancy meets when she finally finds the beach.   The reason for her trek is to visit a favourite spot of her recently deceased mother – although, on mum’s visit there were probably no bloodthirsty white sharks lurking beneath the waves.

Nancy paddles into trouble when she surfs a little too close to the carcass of a whale and disturbs the great white shark feeding on its innards.   You’d think that chowing down on a creature umpteen times its own size would sate the appetite of the hungriest of sharks, but clearly this one is loath to let golden-haired opportunity go to waste so, by the time Nancy has clambered onto a rocky island formed temporarily by the outgoing tide, she has a shark-sized bite in her left leg.   And although the deserted shoreline is tantalisingly close, it might as well be miles away because the shark stubbornly refuses to leave the area and the incoming tide slowly begins to submerge her makeshift refuge.

What follows this bruising encounter is approximately ten minutes of gut-tightening tension followed by the dawning realisation that even the greatest filmmaker is going to struggle to wring much excitement from a woman sitting on a rock.   Anthony Jaswinski’s screenplay works through every scenario open to it, but never comes close to replicating the tautness of its earlier moments as it moves towards a cartoonish climax that puts one in mind of a Warner’s cartoon.

The Shallows does look good, featuring some cool and beautiful underwater photography amidst stunning locations, and Blake Lively makes an agreeably gutsy heroine prepared to do whatever it takes to survive – including some self-surgery on that wounded leg that will have most people squirming in their seats.   Unfortunately, The Shallows’ commendable decision to build its story around a female protagonist is undermined by its objectification of her with a number of gratuitous boob shots, one of which naturally makes it into the trailers.

(Reviewed 3rd August 2016)

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