Lively lead, but plot has no bite

Rutherglen Reformer - - Reviews -

Blake Lively fol­lows in the foot­steps of her hus­band Ryan Reynolds by tack­ling a – pre­dom­i­nantly – sin­gle lo­ca­tion sur­vival­ist thriller.

But where her other half was all on his lone­some in the tense, tight-knit Buried, Lively at least has some other cast mem­bers to share time with – in­clud­ing a great white shark out for her blood.

She stars as surfer Nancy, who is trapped 200 yards from shore at a se­cluded Mex­i­can beach and must use all of her will, smarts and de­ter­mi­na­tion to stay clear of her sharp­toothed tor­men­tor.

Rightly or wrongly, every shark movie from now un­til the end of time will be com­pared with Jaws and The Shal­lows’ ef­fec­tively chill­ing open­ing scene plays out like a found-footage ver­sion of the night­time kill which raised the cur­tain on Spiel­berg’s sem­i­nal 1975 clas­sic.

From there, though, it all goes a lit­tle wrong for Jaume Col­let-Serra’s ocean-set pot­boiler; per­haps no sur­prise given the di­rec­tor’s patchy record in the hor­ror-thriller genre (House of Wax, Or­phan).

His work be­hind the cam­era here is equally hit and miss. He takes us right into the heart of some spec­tac­u­lar waves and his use of ar­ial and un­der­wa­ter shots is im­pres­sive.

It’s a pity, then, that he also chooses to shoot cheesy, Bay­watch-style slo-mo shots of Lively in ac­tion, along with an­noy­ing mo­bile phone footage dis­played on screens within the big screen.

Col­let-Serra does de­serve credit, though, for recog­nis­ing how to build ten­sion – es­pe­cially dur­ing the an­tic­i­pa­tion of the shark’s initial as­sault on Nancy – and also treats us to a couple of grisly, B-movie-per­fect kills.

The di­rec­tor isn’t helped by a wonky script pro­vided by screen­writer An­thony Jaswin­ski, who shows all of his in­ex­pe­ri­ence within the field.

Choos­ing to sad­dle Nancy with a seag­ull buddy (yes, this ac­tu­ally hap­pens) is as un­nec­es­sary as it is im­plau­si­ble – se­ri­ously, not every per­son stuck on their own in a movie needs to have a Wil­son from Cast­away-ap­ing non-hu­man chum.

Nancy also has an ir­ri­tat­ing habit of say­ing all of her plans out loud, which treats the au­di­ence as too dumb to keep up with what’s go­ing on.

The stricken lead is more un­lucky than some­one who breaks a mir­ror while stand­ing un­der a lad­der on Fri­day the 13th as in­creas­ingly ques­tion­able sce­nar­ios play out to drag the film out to its full 80-minute run­ning time.

Lively does a fine job, how­ever, in a hugely phys­i­cally-de­mand­ing role; it’s not quite Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant, but the Cal­i­for­nian has to cling onto a dead whale, stitch wounds with her ear­rings and swim through a swarm of jel­ly­fish.

Sadly her ef­forts are largely in vain as The Shal­lows fails to build on its in­trigu­ing premise.

It’s bet­ter than Shark­nado, though!

Shark at­tack Blake Lively fights for her life in The Shal­lows

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