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Movie Night – Simple plot still entertains in ’47 Meters Down’

By Bradley Griffith

Do you want to watch a movie that’s supposed to make you scared to get in the water? Much like last summer’s “The Shallows,” “47 Meters Down” is intended to make you stay on the relative safety of the beach rather than braving the shark-infested ocean. While it’s not exactly successful in that regard, it does provide decent entertainment to accompany a summer vacation.

The plot is not complicated.  Lisa (Mandy Moore) and her sister, Kate (Claire Holt), are on vacation at a resort in Mexico. Lisa told Kate that her boyfriend was unable to go on the trip, so she asked Kate to go in his place. Actually, Lisa’s boyfriend had broken up with her because she was boring. Lisa was hoping that this trip with her much more adventurous sister would make her seem a little more exciting to her ex.

Lisa is trying to force herself to take adventurous and exciting things, even though they are outside her comfort zone. For instance, her trip to Mexico, partying all night with two local boys, and cage diving with sharks. Lisa is reluctant, but she still agrees to the dive when Kate tells her that someone who is boring wouldn’t go diving with sharks. The photo opportunity alone was enough to convince Lisa to take the plunge, literally.

The captain of the diving boat, Taylor (Matthew Modine), does not inspire confidence. The girls thought Taylor looked rough until they saw his boat. Nearly every part of the boat is covered in rust, including the winch, the chain, and the diving cage itself. Even more disturbing is that Taylor soon starts chumming the water with dead fish and blood to draw in sharks.

Lisa and Kate gingerly climb into the cage and are lowered five meters below the surface. Initially, both girls love it. They are surprised by the beauty of the world beneath the water’s surface, even after they see the first shark.

The problems begin when the cage unexpectedly drops a few feet. Lisa begins to panic and asks that the cage be brought up. On its way to the surface the winch breaks free from the boat and the cage plummets to the ocean floor, 47 meters underwater. The girls are faced with the choice of staying in the cage until their oxygen runs out or swimming to the surface among the swirling sharks.

Like many summer movies, there are many parts of “47 Meters Down” that simply make no sense. For example, at one point Kate “hides” from a shark underwater even though a steady stream of bubbles is floating to the surface from her oxygen tank. The key to enjoying “47 Meters Down” is to not think too much, which is difficult when the ridiculous scenes are so distracting.

Over three quarters of the movie takes place underwater, with the only characters being Lisa, Kate, and the sharks. The ocean is such a major part of the action that it is effectively another character in the movie. Much like how outer space presents many challenges for human survival, the ocean is as much a villain as the sharks.

While there’s not much to the plot, there is one good plot twist toward the end that does provide a surprise. It’s not a “The Sixth Sense” kind of a shocker, but you won’t see it coming and makes you re-think certain parts of the movie.

Enjoying “47 Meters Down” is once again about expectations. If you expect a great drama or action movie you will be disappointed. However, if you expect some mindless summer entertainment, you might enjoy the movie. It’s not as good as last summer’s “The Shallows,” but it’s worth seeing before (or maybe during) your trip to the beach.

Grade: B-

Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense peril, bloody images, and brief strong language.