by Sherry Lipp
If only the The Shallows hadn’t played it so safe. This girl versus killer shark film hits every predictable beat. It definitely has its moments, but it could have been so much more fun. Blake Lively does a good job in a role where is in pretty much every second of the film, but she isn’t given much to do other than be terrified. The Shallows is entertaining enough to make sitting through its 90-minute running time easy. It hits its grand finale just as it wears out its welcome. While it might not be a classic shark film in the vein of Jaws it’s not a bad summer distraction – though it may not make you want to head for the beach any time soon.
In the wake of a family tragedy Nancy (Lively) seeks out a remote Mexican beach her mother had visited years ago. It’s the perfect place to reflect on one’s life and catch some waves. The beach is so remote it’s only frequented by a couple of locals so Nancy pretty much has the place to herself. It’s peaceful until Nancy runs afoul of a particularly vicious shark and finds herself stranded on a tiny rock in “the shallows” with no one to help her.
The film borrows from a lot of other lone survivor tales. It’s Die Hard on a beach with a shark instead of terrorists. It’s Castaway, Open Water, and The Edge. Nancy is unsure if she has the will to keep going because she’s given up on things in the past. Unfortunately that’s about as far as the character development went. The film depends on the cat and mouse game between Nancy on the shark. In that respect the The Shallows offers up quite a bit of tension.
It’s fun to see how Nancy is going to get out of her situation, which seems impossible. It doesn’t matter much that pretty much everything in this film is a little preposterous. It’s just trying to be fun ride in an improbably situation. It’s even written into the script that it’s pretty unlikely a shark like that would be there, so they’re off the hook when it comes to reality. Since it is there anything can happen and pretty much does. It’s a fun, albeit fairly empty, ride. When the ride’s over you probably won’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, but it was fun while it lasted.
The Shallows images: Sony Entertainment