'47 Meters Down: Uncaged' drowns in other shark movie references

Katie Walsh
Tribune News Service
Brianne Tju stars in "47 Meters Down: Uncaged." The movie is playing at Regal West Manchester, Frank Theatres Queensgate Stadium 13 and R/C Hanover Movies.

It just isn't summer until someone punches a shark. Since Jason Statham is off on "Hobbs & Shaw" duties, that task falls to Canadian actress Sophie Nelisse, the plucky heroine of "47 Meters Down: Uncaged," the wholly unnecessary sequel to the Mandy Moore vehicle "47 Meters Down."

But whereas Moore's trip to the bottom of the ocean was high-concept yet tightly contained, co-writer and director Johannes Roberts throws all his previous restraint out the window. High school mean girls? Underwater Mayan catacombs? Blind sharks?! You name it, Roberts chums the water with it to see if it draws any bites. The result is a water-logged late summer creature feature that doesn't come close to the previous entry's minimal pleasures.

Two daughters of Hollywood royalty, Corinne Foxx and Sistine Stallone, make their feature film debut in "47 Meters Down: Uncaged," and one can assume their last names and large Instagram followings helped secure their parts. Foxx stars as Sasha, a popular girl at Modine International School for Girls in Yucatan, Mexico, where she's just moved with her annoying stepsister, Mia (Nelisse), mom (Nia Long) and underwater architect stepfather (John Corbett).

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Hoping to avoid a boat trip with Dad, the girls head out on an adventure with Nicole (Stallone) and Alexa (Brianne Tju). Cliff jumping turns into cave diving, as teen girls in Mexico are wont to do, and the foursome head underwater to explore underground Mayan burial sites that are now underwater due to rising sea levels. Mia and Sasha knowingly embark on the trip despite their father producing a great white shark tooth he found there the day before.

The undersea voyage is sort of like a "Marine Biology for Dummies" trip, and it turns disastrous as the girls destroy a few centuries-old underwater columns and stir up the terrors of the deep, namely, sharks that have evolved to live in such dark confines underwater and are therefore blind. The film is a bit like "The Descent" meets "The Meg," as the girls venture into a claustrophobically tight space and don't like what they find has evolved there.

Roberts, working with a much larger scenic and visual palette this time, seems adrift. There are some very cool settings, such as the underwater Mayan passageways and temple statues, and some neat lighting effects with the strobing red light alarms the divers carry, creating a few moments of visually inspired suspense. But even with such a larger setting, on land and under the sea, everything just seems geographically swirled beyond recognition, especially underwater.

Rather than focusing on what makes the specific aspects of the film unique, "47 Meters Down: Uncaged" turns into a rehash of references to other shark movies. Corbett gets his "Deep Blue Sea" moment, and the final act is like something out of "Open Water" meets "The Shallows." None of the actresses are particularly up to the task, with the exception of Nelisse, who goes from cowering nerd to a shark-punching water warrior. Feel free to stay out of the water with this one.


1.5 stars

Cast: Corinne Foxx, Sistine Stallon, Sophie Nelisse, Nia Long, John Corbett.

Directed by Johannes Roberts.

Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes.

Rated PG-13 for creature related violence and terror, some bloody images and brief rude gestures.