(US - 2016)
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. Written by Anthony Jaswinski. Cast: Blake Lively, Oscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen, Sedona Legge, Angelo Josue Lozano Corzo, Jose Manuel Trujillo Salas. (PG-13, 86 mins)
THE SHALLOWS doesn't give JAWS any cause for concern about losing its place as the greatest shark movie ever, but it gets the job done as mindless summer entertainment and the kind of relatively low-budget film ($17 million--pocket change by today's industry standards) that can quietly become a very profitable sleeper hit. It's handled in the best B-movie fashion by director Jaume Collet-Serra, who's become a reliable genre craftsman in the last several years with 2009's underrated and insane ORPHAN, and a pair of enjoyable Liam Neeson vehicles with 2011's Hitchcockian UNKNOWN and 2014's NON-STOP. Keeping the film lean and fast-moving (the closing credits start just shy of the 80-minute mark), Collet-Serra and screenwriter Anthony Jaswinski (the terrible VANISHING ON 7TH STREET) plow through the exposition as quickly as possible and get to the heart of the surfer vs. shark story.
DEEP BLUE SEA, a wild and fun shark flick completely undone by primitive CGI work that was unconvincing then and simply embarrassing now). Structurally similar to OPEN WATER, THE SHALLOWS is a lot prettier to look at, not just with Lively but with some crystal clear blue ocean off the coast of Queensland, filling in for Mexico. There isn't much depth and there isn't whole lot to say with this--it's a classic case of "It is what it is," and it works. It's not trying to be another JAWS, though it certainly acknowledges its influence, from the always-unnerving shots of the shark fin protruding from the water to giving Lively her own Roy Scheider last word when she finally gets the shark where she wants it. However, it's a sign of the times that the comparative gentlemanly elegance of "Smile, you son of a bitch!" has given way to the more blunt and verbally economical "Fuck you!" but I suppose it's an appropriate farewell.