- Katie Bell
47 Meters Down: Uncaged - 2019
Updated: Apr 26, 2020
My first complaint about this film, is that it definitely should have been (more appropriately) titled 'Sharks in a Cave', because I was thoroughly disappointed by the fact that at no point did anyone pull out a tape measure, nor did they mention the metric system.
Before I launch into this, I'd like to offer an apology. Firstly for the fact that I'm the one writing this review. We should have sent in Charnstar. Secondly, this is a big fat apology for some big fat spoilers, because I have no idea how else to discuss this.
The movie starts with some casual schoolyard bullying - which I wasn't expecting (yay! twist!). Mia (Sophie Nelisse) is pushed into the school pool in her uniform. Everyone laughs. Mia is sad. Sasha (Corinne Foxx) watches. Mia runs away. Everyone laughs more. Then, TWIST! We get a point of view shot from beneath the surface of the pool. The title appears in blood...So, whose point of view is it? I wish I could say that this film is about 'Sharks in a School', but alas, no. I'm still wondering what is in the pool, but I suppose I'll have to wait for the third installment of this money-making series to find out.
Later on, Sasha and Mia sit at the table with their Mum/Step-Mum and Dad/Step-Dad. Dad presents Mia with a shark tooth; he found it in the underwater city that he has been exploring and muses that a shark might have gotten lost down there. He then reveals that he can't hang out with them again this weekend, because he has to go into the shark-infested cave, to prepare for the archaeologists who are coming next week. However, all is not lost! He reveals that he has a surprise for the girls and, "the shark tooth is a clue" (weirdest foreshadowing for murder ever, Dad. But please, continue). Alas, it turns out he isn't planning filicide by shark, instead he is sending them on a shark boat tour thing. Some of the dialogue in this film actually hurts me. Dad says, "Well, I'm sorry that I'm out tomorrow, but the sharks are gonna be really cool". Yep. Sure Dad. Sure. Throughout the next 47 minutes, we encounter a number of people making shark-related jokes. "Don't get eaten by a shark," they repeatedly chortle. There's more. I can't remember. Just know that everyone was WARNED.
The sisters arrive at the tour, but are soon met by Sasha's friends, Alexa (Brianne Tju) and Nicole (Sistine Stallone). The girls decide (of course) to bail on the safety of the tour and go to a private swimming hole. What could possibly go wrong? We are then subjected to 47 minutes of "woo-ing" as they celebrate their way to this new location. Let's flash-forward past the woo-ing. Turns out Alexa has been into the caves before (on a date) AND when they arrive at the spot, there is already diving gear there for the archaeologists' impending arrival AND there are even four full oxygen tanks AND all of the archaeologists are the exact same size and fit as the four girls. So, they decide to go cave diving. Because, why not? Well, some of them are opposed, but are eventually persuaded. #peerpressureisdangerouskids
Okay, so I've basically recapped the first 20 minutes of the movie for you. I cannot be bothered to recap the rest. I'll simply skip to some actual analysis and some genuine reviewing, because that's what I'm claiming this is, right? Anyway, this paragraph shall be dedicated to dialogue. This film contains such noteworthy lines as, "Sasha, you can barely get your ass through there," "Shut-up! At least I have an ass". Excellent, I thought to myself. They spared no expense on writers. However, this unnecessary ass critiquing, is not the worst of the dialogue. During the underwater sequences, there are a number of long shots, where you can see the girls swimming and hear them spouting off random lines. It's the kind of filler dialogue you'd hear in a video game from an NPC (non-playable character). Randomly, they say, "Come on!" "Are you okay?" "We have to keep going!" etc. These phrases are usually a bit random and are rarely replied to. It left me feeling as though they'd played this film for a test audience who'd complained it was too quiet, so then they called all the actresses in to record these random filler lines to throw in over the long shots...or not. I don't know. I haven't researched this. Maybe these lines were written into the script. But why?
The next thing to address is the way this thing is filmed. It's obviously done underwater. It's often dark.The shots sometimes change rapidly and this can be quite disorienting. At one point, during a scene where the girls are doing battle with shark/s, I had no idea what was going on or where they were heading and then all of a sudden it was over. I felt like they'd skipped a scene. I'm not too upset about this however, because I do understand that being underwater in the dark and trying to swim away from a shark would probably be a pretty disorienting experience. So maybe the filmmakers were trying to replicate this in the way it was shot. I did like the use of shadows. Shark shadows are used well to build tension (and prepare me for the jump scares).
Finally, let's talk about some straight up moments of stupidity. There were three times in this film when I had to resist the urge to face-palm in the cinema.
1. Early on in the film, the girls see a tetra fish. Luckily, one of them knows all about tetra fish, and launches into a monologue about all of their qualities. Another girl seems delighted. She reaches towards the fish and attempts to pat it. I assume in the same way she'd pat a dog. Fishy no likey. The tetra fish screams in her face, sending her hurtling into a stone pylon, which of course, immediately collapses under the weight of this teenage girl (naturally), which makes a bunch of noise, which alerts a shark...it's really a series of unfortunate events. I'm sure Lemony Snicket would be very proud.
2&3. In the climax of this film, (SPOILERS), Mia and Sasha take on a few great whites. They successfully fight them off. Firstly, one has Sasha in its mouth. Mia fires a flare gun into the shark's face. This moment is accompanied by a beautiful slow motion close up of Mia's screaming facial expression. The girls almost escape, but a second shark grabs Mia! It's okay though, because at the beginning of the film, Dad gave Mia that shark tooth. So Mia fights off this shark with the single tooth of another shark...I literally...yep.
Look, this film isn't the worst. I think my biggest problem with it, is that it appears to be trying to be realistic at the start...but then it ends up being ridiculous. If I were going to see Sharknado I would expect the absurd. However, this did not start like a Sharknado film. It started like Tomorrow When the War Began: four young girls off to have a good time...but something bad is looming. I wanted it to lean into the badness a little more at the start, or lean into the goodness a little more at the end.
In saying all of that, Kevin laughed the whole way through. So this review probably says more about my poor taste in films, than anything about this film itself.