My notes on 47 Meters Down Uncaged
This thematic sequel – no characters are ported over from the earlier film – opens with a beautiful slow-motion underwater shot of teenage heroine Mia (Sophie Nélisse) being pitched face-forward into a swimming pool. It turns out she’s unhappy being dragged to Mexico by her diving archaeologist Dad Grant (John Corbett) and his new wife (Nia Long) and is getting picked on my mean girls at posh ex-pat school – while her resentful stepsister Sasha (Corinne Foxx) isn’t sticking up for her. As in 47 Meters Down, and genre touchstone Open Waters, the first reel or so sketches in character business, explains why these people are here, and shows how things start to go wrong through carelessness and contrivance. The sisters are supposed to take a glass-bottom boat tour to see great white sharks feeding, but a better offer comes up from Alexa (Brianne Tju) and Nicole (Sistine Stallone) to visit a remote beauty spot which turns out to be the flooded Mayan ruins Grant is exploring. The girls venture into the sunken temple because it sounds calm, and do a pretty good job of blundering about the site trashing valuable antiquities even before being menaced by blind sharks – who start to chum through the cast, which is augmented by a couple of diver guys, in roughly the expected order.
There’s a bit of The Descent in the frictions between the women, though this is more about the sisters bonding than breaking up, but it’s mostly bait-and-switch with the big fish, and cave diving danger … with a nicely ironic escape to the open sea just as the waters are bloodied and the great whites gathered for that glass-bottom boat tour the girls should have taken in the first place. Director Johannes Roberts, who co-writes with his usual partner Ernest Riera, eases up a bit after the comparative gloom of the earlier film, and works more in the mode of his retro-slasher movie The Strangers Prey at Night – including making some creepy use of classic pop (underwater Karen Carpenter) and having victims bloodily rent in slightly low-rent CGI every few minutes. It makes better use of its underground underwater setting than the disappointing Shark in Venice, and the cast – especially Nélisse and Tju – are fine, acting through faceplates that at least allow for more expression than the kit of the first movie.
My only real complaint is that the main mean girl (Brec Bassinger) gets off too easily – maybe she can get hers in the first scene of the next 47 Meters movie.
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