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Running Time:
1 hr. 29 minutes

Rating: PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned.

Rating Explanation:
for sequences of intense, peril, bloody images, and brief strong language

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
While the plot is a bit shaky in parts, the overall effect of creating needed tension and some outright, out-of-your-seat jumps of fright is quite effective.

Additional Info:
Mandy Moore ... Lisa
Claire Holt ... Kate
Chris J. Johnson ... Javier
Yani Gellman ... Louis
Santiago Segura ... Benjamin
Matthew Modine ... Captain Taylor

47 Meters Down
Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) are in Mexico together because Lisa’s boyfriend dumped her,  prompting Kate to step in and use his ticket. It’s Kate who suggests a shark cage adventure as a means of bolstering Lisa’s spirits after it’s suggested by a couple of handsome locals. Captain Taylor’s boat, with its rusty cage, might not look state-of-the-art, but he outfits the damsels with modern scuba gear—including microphones that will allow a steady stream of conversation and gauges to disclose the cage’s depth and the amount of oxygen remaining in their tanks—before lowering them gingerly into the drink.

Unhappily, after just a few minutes of fun—including the first of many “gotcha” moment when a shark suddenly appears out of the darkness—the winch chain comes loose, sending the trapped women tumbling to the ocean floor—they land at the titular 47 meters. They squeal in panic and try to comfort one another; Kate will also venture outside the cage intermittently to restore the communication link with the boat above as Lisa—the scared one—whimpers and awaits her return.

Surprisingly, the sharks appear rarely during their ordeal, abruptly showing up whenever Roberts must liven things up with a jolt. Such interventions are certainly needed, because the dialogue becomes terribly boring, except for the periodic instructions from the captain that are all too obviously designed to prepare for later plot developments. When the beasts do show up, however, all they really offer is a brief shock moment, because—with a single exception—they seem to be pretty inept at clamping down on a prospective victim. They come rushing out of the murky depths—and murky they are—only to miss their prey by inches in almost every instance. (The exception, moreover, is really a cheat. One doesn’t want to reveal too much, but most viewers will probably feel let down by the ending, which strains for gruesome cleverness but instead is likely to elicit groans, even though Captain Taylor’s repeated warnings have telegraphed it.)

Director Johannes Roberts ("The Other Side of the Door") does manage to convey the extreme darkness of the environment in which Kate and Lisa find themselves; they can see very little, and neither can we. The effect is to create a strong sense of claustrophobic unease, but the director doesn’t use the atmosphere especially well. The long sequences of Kate swimming about in the murky morass quickly become dull, especially since the dialogue is so banal, explaining why Roberts and co-writer Ernest Riera resort to plot turns so hokey that they actually draw guffaws from the audience—like one in which the cage is reattached to the boat with a rope rather than a chain, with predictable results.

Within the confines of the script, Mandy Moore and Claire Holt do their Dumb-and-Dumber routine well enough, but never manage to engender a great deal of audience sympathy. Of the others only Matthew Modine is at all notable; his actual footage is limited, and in the later stages he’s present mostly in voiceover, but that at least gives an actor once so promising in films like Full Metal Jacket a welcome degree of anonymity as his lines get increasingly ridiculous, even though they are necessary to prepare the way for the  deceptive finale.

In an era that has descended to “Sharknado,” any new attempt at a sharkfest needs to be really distinctive to carry much impact. 47 Meters Under isn’t, and as a result comes across as a fairly toothless entry in the Jaws-inspired genre.

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