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The Shallows


Shark Tale – ★★★

Sometimes the elevator pitch for  a movie is enough to get people in through the door. The Shallows is a perfect example. Blake Lively plays a young surfer in search of answers on an abandoned beach, who gets bitten by a shark and has to take refuge on a rock 200 metres from shore – from the director of those Liam Neeson b-movies. Boom.

The script, from relative unknown Anthony Jaswinski, is probably the film’s biggest let-down as it’s paced rather poorly and has a big great dip in the middle when the film reaches nightfall and Blake decided to just have a bit of a nap on the rock. The whole premise of her character Nancy Adams being a medical student who dropped out of college after her mother died, who then heads off to Mexico to find herself feels very contrived, and the setup of how Nancy gets left all alone at sea doesn’t really hold up to much scrutiny. A perfunctory plot would be putting it kindly.

Lively is considered one of the world’s “sexiest” actresses and so it’s no surprise that director Jaume Collet-Serra has opted to allow his camera to linger on her at length and show some almost comedy close-ups of her zipping up her wetsuit. This mostly comes in the opening quarter of an hour and is to be expected; it will no doubt help ensnare the audience who only saw the film because of the promise of seeing some beachy beautiful Blake.

But putting those problems aside because this is all actually a lot of fun. Collet-Serra has an absolute blast with the shark attack scenes and there’s genuine tension and peril in play which is hard to achieve as a director considering how often we’ve seen sharks on screen. The whole film is a real visual feast as it’s got a pretty lady, blue ocean and has been through a number of Instagram filters to ramp up the FOMO factor. Lively is game for anything (even signing a contract which allows for second-rate CGI face-replacement during surf scenes) and puts in a really solid performance.

Collet-Serra made two well-received Liam Neeson-starring action films in the shape of Run All Night and Non-Stop, and he repeats the trick here. Distracting but enjoyable fare that won’t stay with you for too long after leaving the cinema.

In cinemas August 12th 2016

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