'47 Meters Down’
Director: Johannes Roberts
Stars: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt
1 (out of 5) Globes
For every “Armageddon,” there is a “Deep Impact”; for every “A Bug’s Life,” an “Antz.” Last summer saw the release of “The Shallows,” a bare-bones survival thriller stranding Blake Lively on an outcropping of rock with a hungry predator in the surrounding surf. Now “47 Meters Down” has emerged as that shark tale’s “A Shark Tale.” But whereas last year’s edition of the Great White vs. Passable Caucasian showdown enlivened Lively’s deadly dilemma with creative camerawork and even pacing, its spiritual successor waters down an already watery premise.
Two major differences separate the films, IDing “47 Meters Down” as the weaker of the pair. The first is former “Aquaman” star (on “Entourage,” at least) Mandy Moore, returning to the waves as a passive, otherwise nondescript thirtysomething on vacation with her younger sister (Claire Holt) to recuperate from a stinging breakup. She’s an unfortunate case of subtraction by addition, stuffed into an acting-proof swimsuit for most of the run time and left with her voice as the only method of performance. How unfortunate, too, that that voice must be used mostly for breathy whimpering.
Still, you’d be frazzled, too, if an accident with a ramshackle cage-diving outfit had left you locked in a metal box on the ocean floor with a rapidly depleting supply of oxygen. Those are the unenviable circumstances from which our gal Moore must escape — a sort of submerged “127 Hours” with one toothy variable in the equation. Though this game may be set to a higher difficulty level, the increased resourcefulness it demands fails to bolster the drama. It’s impossible to give a slim fraction of a damn about Moore’s ex-boyfriend troubles when she’s got all the chemistry she could ever need with the 20-foot shark angrily hovering above her cage.
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“47 Meters Down”places a big bet on its claustrophobic, minimal premise, but it’s all a bluff; Moore’s doesn’t have the chops to pull off this uniquely demanding role, and director Johannes Roberts fails to provide her with photography that places the audience inside her predicament. As a result, we’re never fully convinced that this tremulous heroine is worth investing in at all. In a movie pitting woman against shark, it’s a bad sign when you find yourself rooting for the shark.
Follow Charles Bramesco on Twitter @introthecrevasse