Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra – Starring: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen, Sedona Legge
Don’t let the fact that there are a few cast-members listed above fool you. This is pretty much a one-woman show for Blake Lively. For most of the just under 90 minutes running-time, she is on screen alone. Well, her, and a great white shark!
She plays medical student, Nancy Adams, who, following her mother’s death, travels to a secluded beach in Mexico that she had told her about. Initially, it appears to be paradise, and everything that she anticipated. She rides some waves, chats with a couple of other surfers, and generally relaxes.
As the other two leave the beach, she decides to catch one last wave. This proves a mistake, as she encounters the aforementioned great white shark, and is forced to crawl to safety on a whale carcass, before making her way to a reef 200 yards from shore. Alone, and with no means of communication, she must keep her wits about her, to try and escape the predator and make it back to the beach alive.
To be fair, it is only the presence of Lively that elevates this somewhat above B movie. The premise isn’t a new one, and the ‘man (or woman) against natural predator’ tale has been done dozens of times before. That said, Lively does throw herself into this with gusto, and really pushes herself physically.
The surfing shots are stunning, and, on the whole, the cinematography is excellent. The writing, however, is a bit disjointed, with a huge amount of back-story being thrown at the audience, which distracts from the action.
This does have some jump out of your seat moments, but it doesn’t sustain the tension throughout, and, at times, it loses the viewer before drawing them back in. Unfortunately, you never really regain the momentum. The final big action scene does have some great moments, although it’s no Jaws.
The Shallows is entertaining enough if you want to switch off and look at pretty scenery for a while. It doesn’t demand too much of the viewer, and it isn’t a taxing watch. And don’t worry – it is unlikely to put you off going into the water!
In Cinemas August 12th!