Baby Shark, Grandpa Shark

47 Meters Down: Uncaged begins with protagonist Mia falling into water. The school bully pushed her in, the immediate indicator that Mia (Sophie Nelisse) will be this shark movie’s hero, and that bully is doomed.

Yet 47 Meters Down: Uncaged doesn’t follow those rules. Not exactly. Considering the shark movie’s current state (cinematic chum, basically), a sliver of the unexpected is welcomed.

Past the pitiful first act’s foreshadowing, the sharks show up. People get eaten. Like the first 47 Meters Down, this happens with women trapped underwater, their oxygen supplies dwindling. That’s the gimmick. For this, Mia turns from Beta to the Alpha in her group, the slightest character development in a movie with almost none. Mia’s friends either act impulsively or not, with an obvious lack of middle ground.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged is a “get what you came for” thriller

These women dive to a Mayan burial site. Rising water levels covered it decades (or more) ago. Much like building a house on an Indian burial ground, it’s the same mistake to invade a similar Mayan site. In this case, blind (!) albino sharks roam the area. That’s a ghostly equivalent, and clever means to highlight the man-eaters in visually darkened waters. Sensible? Not really, but at least a tornado isn’t sending them into New York.

A few grotesque logic twists (music somehow plays loudly underwater, sound-sensitive sharks don’t hear it) aside, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged is a “get what you came for” thriller. Reasonable tension sustains interest, jump scares happen by the dozen, and screams by the hundreds. 47 Meters Down: Uncaged gives credence to people being dumb, stupid panicky animals as famously noted in Men in Black, and finds a sensible way to conclude this thing.

Shark flicks since Jaws always assume audiences come for the kills. Maybe audiences think they do too, but Jaws worked because the characters did. 47 Meters Down: Uncaged flunks out, missing the chance to potentially bond these women in tragedy and fear. Nearly the entire production crew was male, so maybe that’s the issue. It’s a shame to see Sistine Rose Stallone’s first feature give her nothing to do other than panic.

Credit, however, for authentically filming this in water. Visual effects stand in for background material, while the rest forces these actresses to swim and claw through caves with legitimate stakes. That’s more than a majority try when it comes to putting great whites on film, if no reason to sit through this.

Video

Make note that 47 Meters Down: Uncaged drug a digital camera into the water. That will put appropriate expectations in place. A little banding is apparent in spots. Noise jumps from lesser, murkier shadows. Detail goes as far as it can in these conditions.

Before the dive, exceptional color livens up the Mexico setting. It’s warm and saturated, leading to a gorgeous jungle walk. Primaries add zest, with natural flesh tones. Below the surface, it’s cool greens taking over. A red spot comes late from an emergency light; that’s bright.

A few scenes involve absolute black. They work. Strobe flashes cut in and out, shifting between intense brightness and flawless nothingness. Surrounding these women, darkness is sold in total, a necessity to keep tension around.

Audio

It’s nice to hear active jungles in the early going. That’s a mere primer though. A wide 5.1 soundstage sells flowing water and air bubbles. Voices echo outward too, taking position in proper channels. Sharks strike with force, rushing in or panning through, never missing a speaker as they go.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged’s audio high mark happens during a heavy current, water swirling and heavy LFE combining. Range is an asset here. Sharks slam into walls, the low-end suggesting their strength. Ruins collapse multiple times in this story, that concrete vicious once gravity takes hold. For something likely produced on a budget, this is fantastic mixing.

Extras

Director Johannes Roberts, writer Ernest Riera, and producer James Harris join together and chat on a commentary. It’s a shame the main cast isn’t featured, given the challenges they certainly endured. A routine making-of titled Diving Deeper is only marginally interesting over 12-minutes.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

A shark movie does shark movie things, but 47 Meters Down: Uncaged is willing to avoid a few generic cliches between killing people off.

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