Starring: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Chris Johnson
Director: Johannes Roberts
Running Time: 89 mins
47 Metres Down is an American film about two women who go shark cage diving while on holiday in Mexico, but when their cage suddenly detaches from their boat, they find themselves stranded on the seafloor, with limited oxygen, and man-eating sharks closing in.
With the advent of more and more direct-to-DVD shark movies, the genre has become the biggest target of derision in cinema, but that doesn’t mean that every movie with sharks has to be absolutely terrible. 47 Metres Down, while not quite exceptional, crafts an exciting and entertaining survival story that not only provides light-hearted shark action, but also creates tension and panic in a way that will genuinely engross you in the two main characters’ desperate peril.
In that, this is actually more of a survival movie than a shark movie, as we follow these two women when they find themselves doing anything to get back to the surface after becoming stranded in a shark cage on the ocean floor, with oxygen rapidly disappearing. And, as with all survival movies, there is some great excitement, but the opening act really does take its time to get the movie into gear.
While there’s certainly nothing wrong with a bit of character set-up, 47 Metres Down opens with an incredibly basic and slow-moving first act that not only spends far too much time on very simplistic and clear character traits, but doesn’t even bring about that air of tension that could have been used to make the events of the second and third acts all the more powerful.
As a result, the film gets off to a very weak start, and it’s only about twenty minutes in – where the cage detaches from the boat and sinks to the seafloor – that things actually start getting entertaining.
The second act impresses with a simple concept that’s far more layered and complex than you might think at first. Not only do the two women find themselves stuck on the seafloor because of the danger of deadly sharks circling above them, the many perils of deep sea diving also pose a real threat, leaving almost all of their attempts to reach safety squandered by a variety of interesting and genuinely unpredictable risks.
That’s why this isn’t just a shark movie. In fact, the sharks are probably one of the weaker dangers at play here, and while every moment the women swim in open water is tinged with a tension and fear of a shark coming along out of the darkness, it’s actually those other threats and dangers that pose a real barrier to survival, with the sharks just making the situation a little more difficult.
The excitement continues strongly through the second and third acts, and although the story becomes unnecessarily messy in the last act – when the reality of their situation starts to become a lot vaguer and more unclear – it’s all done in light-hearted and enjoyable fashion throughout, which is what ultimately makes this such a fun movie.
Overall, I really quite liked 47 Metres Down. While it’s by no means the most exciting, tense or consistent thriller ever made, it hits home with an entertaining story that’s both simple and still unpredictable at times, all presented in fun-loving and light-hearted fashion to make for a thoroughly enjoyable watch, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.3.