What a blast!
Jaws set a new standard in shark thrillers and summer blockbusters. Since its release in 1975, it scared generations of moviegoers of going back into the water. Nowadays, there are hardly any good shark movies anymore. Hollywood seems to use the shark as B-movie material, specifically on Syfy (Sharknado). Thankfully, director Jaume Collet-Sera (Orphan, Unknown, Non-Stop, Run All Night) brings back the much-needed thrills in The Shallows.
Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) has almost completed medical school before dropping out. After the loss of her mother, she goes to a secret beach in Mexico called “Paradise”. She goes surfing with her surfing buddies until a great white shark attacks them. An injured Nancy finds safety on a rock 200 yards from shore. She must get rid of the shark once and for all.
As straight-forward as survival movies get, Collet-Sera brings his skills to good use with The Shallows. With the right amount of white-knuckling tension juxtaposed with the beauty, there are plenty of exquisite overhead shots of the ocean and impressive underwater scenery, particularly in one scene where Nancy tries to swim to the buoy with jellyfish blocking her path. Even though it’s computer-generated, the shark is more realistic than most sharks in movies today. By the end, however, it looks a bit cartoonish during an otherwise thrilling climax.
For the majority of the film, it goes into 127 Hours-mode with the camera focusing on our shark bait. To quote Richard Roeper, “She’s not Blake Lively; she’s Blake DEADLY.” Inspired by her husband Ryan Reynolds, she pulls off the most physical performance of her entire career. Considering her Nancy was about to become a doctor, her skills do come in handy when she helps an injured seagull (one of the film’s most amusing moments). It’s hard to deny her charm and enthusiasm while having to endure so much pain. She’s that good!
Despite the inconsistent tone (Collet-Sera uses slow motion a little too much during the surfing in the first half), The Shallows is the best shark thriller since Jaws. If you’re looking for fun matinee entertainment this summer, this is it.