Saturday, September 17, 2016

mexican wave.

The Shallows (2016).
Dir: Jaume Collet-Serra.
Cast: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen, Sedona Legge, Angelo José Lozano Corzo, José Manuel Trujillo Salas, Pablo Calva and Diego Espejel.

Are you ready to get wet, Dr. Adams?

It's a sunny day in downtown (and pre-Trump terrorizing) Mexico where a small boy (almost Benetton like in his cuteness) is nonchalantly kicking a 'soccer' ball (as our American cousins call it) along an idyllic beach.

Coming across one of those fancy helmet mounted action cameras lying discarded in the sand he does what any small Mexican child would do and hurries off to sell it for drugs.

Only joking.

He gingerly turns it on and sits back to watch the video, hoping for some sand-based porn or the like.

Unfortunately (for him obviously, the rest of us are hoping for some shark munching action) the video consists of shaky footage of a moustachioed man struggling to climb onto a rock only before being gobbled up by a big shark.


But how did we get here?*

Taking a break from her studies in order to cope with the grief of losing (as in she died not fell down the back of the sofa) her mother, skinny hipped medical student Nancy (Carol Ferris herself, Lively) has decided to travel to the very same beach her mother surfed at right after finding out she was pregnant.

Tho' not being a surfer - or pregnant - I'm not too sure if that was safe.


Getting a ride to the beach from friendly local handyman Carlos T. Jackal
(Jaenada, star of 2010s The Valdemar Legacy II: The Forbidden Shadow), she soon arrives at the fabled beach - which is lucky cos the movie only has an 86 minute running time and we really don't need all this touchy, feely stuff if I'm honest, I just want to see a skimpily swimsuit lady fight a shark -  joining a couple of surfer dudes (one of which is wearing a camera on his hat....this maybe - or already is important so remember it) in 'hanging ten' and 'being tubular'.

Somewhere to park your bike at least.

It's not all Big Wednesday shenanigans tho' as Nancy takes a break to video-call 
her baby sister, the chinny Chloe (Legge, daughter of Eastenders GP Harold) in order to not only let her know that she has arrived at their mother's beach but also to begrudgingly chat to her dad (Cullen) as to remind the audience about her dead mum and her decision to drop out of school for a bit.

C'mon, it's only been five minutes since it was last mentioned so we may have forgotten.

With all this family drama stuff out of the way Nancy hangs up in order to 'catch' one more wave before heading back to her hotel.

Splashing about in the water without a care in the world Nancy is surprised to see the carcass of a humpback whale bobbing about just ahead of her, totally ruining her view and ultimately reminding her of her mums death.

Which is a wee bit unkind seeing as the actress playing her mom in the flashbacks (Chelsea Moody fact fans) was actually fairly hot.

Even (oh go on especially) when wearing a headscarf with her eyebrows shaved.

And played by Janelle Bailey.

Anyway back to the plot where Nancy, currently riding her last wave of the day back to the beach is suddenly thrown into the water by a huge great white shark that has decided, inconsiderately it must be said to head-butt her surf board, causing her to hit her head on a submerged rock.

Swimming to the surface and reaching for her board the shark reappears and bites her leg, pulling her below the waves.

Luckily Nancy manages to punch her way free and hurriedly swims toward the dead whale before crawling atop it to relative (if not fairly stinky) safety.

"You ain't seen me right?"

Lying atop the blubbery dead beast (exactly like that time you found your dad and your cousin at your sisters wedding) Nancy scans the area for a safer spot as the shark attempts to overturn the creature in order to eat her whole.

Tho' shark experts watching will know that they usually spit that bit out.

Noticing an isolated rock not too far away our blood spattered babe tosses herself off the whale and into the sea, swimming as fast as she can whilst the shark circles the whale playing scary mind games with Nancy like some sea-based Rob Titchener.

Clambering onto the rock and soak in sea, sweat and blood (it's not important but does make for a fairly erotic mental image whilst reading) Nancy uses her medical training to fashion an improvised tourniquet from her surfboard strap, her earrings and the sleeve of her wetsuit to stop the bleeding before attempting to attract the attention of the two locals who were surfing earlier.

Unfortunately due to her messy appearance and lack of make-up the pair fail to notice her driving away and leaving Nancy to spend the night on the rock with only a wounded seagull - whom she names Stephen, after the late Boyzone singer Stephen Gately - for company.

Waking the next morning covered in tiny crabs (we've all been there), Nancy notices a fat drunk passed out on the beach and begins waving her arms about in the hope of getting his attention.

He must be totally rat arsed tho' (but probably not as drunk as that fucker in the Blair Witch showing) as the sight of Blake Lively in an tiny bikini drenched in blood does nothing for him save alerting him to the fact that her bag must be on the beach somewhere.

Upon finding it he decides to steal her phone and wallet before wanking into her dry clothes.

Stumbling off home he soon notices her surfboard floating in shallow water so  wades out to steal that too.


Good job then that the shark was nearby and fearing his award for nastiest beast in the film is in jeopardy bites the guy in half.

"They'll be no shite-in in mah mooth you pointy toothed bastard!"

Realizing that she can do nothing but wait - and hope - for help Nancy passes the time teaching the Seagull the words to No Matter What, which is an uphill struggle seeing as birds don't have lips.

Luckily - for us and her -  the two locals return for another days surfing, which is a good thing if they can rescue Nancy without getting eaten first.

So, do you reckon that's going to happen?

Well it wont really spoil the movie if I say that within minutes of entering the water both are killed by the shark.

Don't worry it's not all bad as the dorsal-finned fiend decides not to eat the helmet-mounted camera one of them was wearing giving Nancy a chance to retrieve it and therefore record a goodbye message to her dad and sister before throwing it (rather craply it must be said) toward the shore.

"Put it in me!"

Dehydrated, losing blood and with high tide approaching, Nancy knows the rock will soon be submerged leaving her at the sharks mercy.

But she has a cunning plan.

Not too far away from the rocks is a rusted old buoy that may offer more protection (and maybe a flare gun or something) so,  after sending Stephen out to sea on a broken bit of surfboard in order to time the sharks circling from the whale to the rock, Nancy decides to swim for it.

Narrowly avoiding being eaten by swimming thru' a school of colourfully rendered CGI jellyfish Nancy clambers aboard the buoy and does indeed find a flare gun which it turns out is a bit shit failing as it does - in a fairly spectacular manner - to draw the attention of a passing ship.

It does however wind up the shark a fair bit and not being very good at communicating its frustration decides to try and eat the buoy instead.

With night falling and only a handful of wet flares for company Nancy is trapped on an ever more chewed buoy as the shark circles closer and closer.

Will she escape unscathed?

And more importantly did Stephen make it to shore?

From the man who gave us the video for "Esperanza" by Enrique Iglesias and the hypopituitarism-based potboiler The Orphan (which if you haven't seen is worth it just for the frankly bonkers reveal) comes a surprisingly taut little thriller that makes the best of its small cast and big threat.

Collet-Serra's Euro-centric pop video vibe gives the proceedings a nice arty feel, whether it be shots of text messages and times popping up in mid-air, the genuinely chilling first shot of the shark, silhouetted in the wave on which the Nancy is surfing or the aftermath of the first attack where the sea gradually turns for bright blue to a shade of red usually reserved for Argento movies, his visual stylings never overpower what is, in essence a simple little (wo)man vs. nature story.

I wouldn't want one of them swimming up hang on.

Sure the bog-standard relationship/grief/tragic backstory is a wee bit unnecessary - it's (lucky) enough that she's in med school, let's just have her out surfing and the shark turns up, nothing else matters - and the helmet camera seems a little bit too convenient but Collet-Serra and star Lively manage to pull it off.

Talking of Lively she's actually great as Nancy, giving a pretty strong and level headed performance, thankfully not going the usual shivering wreck to superwoman route that these movies usually take and for once someones job description is actually useful, her almost nonchalant A-Team attempts at fixing her wounds are one of the high points of the film.

The Shallows may not re-invent the killer fish genre but it's an entertaining enough way to spend 90 minutes mainly due to the fact that after being trapped in the cinematic crapper of Sharknado and it's Sy-Fy shite-hole siblings for years it's nice to finally have the shark back on the big screen - and being treated with the respect and fear it deserves, not just in this film but also in Johannes Roberts' Mandy Moore starrer In The Deep, a similarly Mexican set shark shocker that, to my mind is the more claustrophobic and affecting of the two.

But don't take my word for it, go see them both.

Because if you don't the studios will think we don't want nice things and before you know it we'll end up with Deep Blue Sea II: The Deepening or something.

*Usually via a search engine (Google or the like) or because you subscribe to this page or - and this is the most likely judging by the type of comments I get - you did an interweb search for 'Blake Lively naked'.

No comments: