47 Meters Down is a shark movie that's ultimately way too light on sharks. Director and writer Johannes Roberts wants to build tension, stoke fear in the murky black of the deep sea. What we get is an eighty-nine minute movie with five minutes of shark action. None of the characters exhibit any kind of common sense or behave in a realistic way. This movie portrays the young starlets as dumber than a box of hammers; foolish American girls plunging into an obviously dangerous situation. 47 Meters Down needed to be smarter and actually have sharks. It's a tedious, short film that feels much longer.
Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) are on vacation in Mexico. Lisa is hurting after being dumped, so her sister takes the place of the liberated ex. The girls meet some hunky Mexican studs, have a few margaritas, and are convinced to join them on a shark dive. Lisa has major concerns, especially when she sees the crappy boat and rusted shark cage.
The boat's captain, Taylor (Matthew Modine), convinces them everything is safe; as he chums the water with fetid blood. The girls strap on their scuba gear, squeeze into the rusted cage, and descend into the water. Their adventure becomes a nightmare as the cable holding the cage breaks. They plummet to the ocean floor. Surrounded by monstrous great white sharks and running out oxygen, the sisters desperately fight to survive.
Two things, off the bat, challenge suspension of disbelief in this movie. First, Lisa has no experience scuba diving. Kate gives her a one sentence lesson and its shark time. Then you have the rusty, flimsy shark cage, held up by an even rustier and flimsier cable. This thing couldn't protect you from a hamster attack, let alone a twenty-foot shark. The film lingers on the winch and cage so you know how feeble it is. No one with an ounce of self preservation would put themselves in that situation. It is completely unrealistic.
Once the girls are stuck in the deep, the filmmakers try to raise tension. The girls embark on all kinds of lunatic efforts to rescue themselves. They are repeatedly cut by the cage, droplets of blood floating away like a shark dinner bell. Do the sharks swarm in and finish them off like any real shark in the ocean? Of course not, the sharks only pop up when the music is queued and the girls are floundering about. These scenes tested my patience mightily. At one point I was praying for the sharks to kill them so the film could end.
From Entertainment Studios, 47 Meters Down is a weak entry in the Shark genre. The ending has a twist that is somewhat clever, but doesn't make up for the film's inadequacies. Claire Holt and Mandy Moore play dumb lambs to the slaughter. I had zero empathy for their situation. That said, the film might have worked with more shark action to beef up the scares. It's scant at best, relying on psychology more than anything else. 47 Meters Down needed more terror and pragmatism to work. They've chummed the box office waters with boredom and stupidity here.