Blake Lively vs a shark and a script
This quintessential summer popcorn thriller is daftly conceived but perfectly enjoyable, writes Tara Brady
THE SHALLOWS Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. Starring Blake Lively. 12 cert, general release, 83 min Who is smarter: Blake Lively or a fish? We’re only being a tiny bit facetious: that’s the sky-high concept at the heart of this reasonably entertaining, imprudently daft aquatic thriller.
Thus, med school dropout Nancy (Lively) makes her way to a remote Mexican beach to catch some waves and retrace the steps of her late mother. There follows various shots of Lively’s shapely bronzed bits – you really ought to up the factor, girl – and a video-call back home, one of many ill-advised sequences that attempts to make text messages and modern communications look cinematic.
Nancy returns to the water and is attacked by a great white shark. She finds refuge on the blubbery carcass of a humpback whale, and then a reef, which is soon to be submerged, but the marine monster just keeps going around and around.
Hollywood hasn’t made great use of Blake Lively since her Gossip Girl days. Too often she has been ill-served by such unlovely projects as Green
Lantern and Savages. Classy studio scream queen seems like a much better option and, sure enough, Lively works hard against a screenplay that, by its nature, requires her to narrate what she is doing, you know, for properly dumb viewers.
But which Jaume ColletSerra is presiding? To date, the director has made one modern horror classic ( Orphan), three mid-ranking Liam Neeson chase-abouts ( Run All Night, Unknown, Non-Stop) and a couple of genuine stinkers ( House of Wax, Goal 2).
The Shallows is neither his finest nor his worst hour. The film passes the time agreeably, but is seldom as nail-biting as we might reasonably expect from a lean genre exercise featuring a circling dorsal fin. DOP Flavio Labiano’s cinematography makes azure use of Lord Howe Island, the Australian World Heritage Site where the film was shot. The injured seagull sidekick (picture a cawing Wilson the volleyball) is a neat touch.
Other aspects are less neat: the CG jellyfish make one think of 8-bit Supermario, while the shark’s abilities are as inconsistent as its grudge against Lively is dogged and pronounced. It must be a Pretty Little Liars fan.
Pedigree chum Blake Lively hangs on in The Shallows