By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, film critic)
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Thriller finds two sisters running out of oxygen and surrounded by man-eaters when their shark cage sinks to the bottom of the ocean.
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: B-)
If you can embrace that this film has more in common with fictional monster movies than actual shark behavior (or scuba diving, for that matter), it’s a real nail-biter. The premise is simple. The characters are paper-thin. Some of the dialogue is unintentionally laughable. The shark effects don’t quite pass muster when the characters are near the surface (they are excellent, however, in the dark depths). Yet, for popcorn B-movie entertainment, 47 Meters Down satisfies with terrifying execution. The suspense is nearly-unbearable at times, and stars Mandy Moore and Claire Holt do a fine job of eliciting audience sympathy. Director Johannes Roberts masterfully preys on audience fears of drowning and being devoured. The use of space and silence is brilliant. It’s no Jaws, but those desiring a shark-thriller fix will find what they need here.
IS IT OKAY FOR YOUR KIDS?
47 Meters Down is rated PG-13. It has one f-word and a few mild and moderate profanities scattered throughout. Young women drink beer and kiss men they’ve just met. A woman is briefly seen in a bikini and men are shirtless as they swim. Several people are attacked by sharks; there is some blood and a few rapid gory glimpses of bitten legs, blood in the water, etc. but mostly the film focuses on generating thrills through near-misses and increasing tension over the fear of drowning and attack. Some people die.
ANY WORTHWHILE MESSAGES?
In times of trial, loved ones can help keep hope alive. Stay calm in crises so that you can think more clearly. When engaged in thrill-seeking, do not take unnecessary risks.
Real shark-diving is totally different, at least with the fine folks at North Shore Shark Adventures where I dove in 2015. It’s completely different than this movie. No Great Whites, no water-chumming, no SCUBA, and the cage is both anchored to the boat and is lined with flotation devices so it sits at the surface. If you’re ever in Oahu look them up!