Starring: Blake Lively, a Seagull, and a Shark
Directed: Jaume Colle-Serra
Let’s face it if you’re going to tackle the shark attack thriller genre you best bring something special to the table if you’re going to compete with that one word classic we all know of (and my fave ever film).
The beginning does not give you much hope. A sun kissed, pervy, Michael Bay inspired set up featuring a gorgeous Blake Lively repeatedly removing and applying clothes with the camera ideally placed to catch frequent glimpses of breasts and ass. Annoying text messages and phone pictures popping up on screen to remind you that this is a ‘cool’ film with ‘cool’ ideas; I long for the day when Hollywood attempts a new way of conveying the use of tech in film (this months Nerve was a step in the right direction). It all leads to a bad taste in the mouth.
Once Blake reaches the water, in super slo-mo of course, things take a turn for the better. Colle-Serra utilises long takes of surfing and cuts into the dark below to build a suitable air of tension, and once we’ve done with a simplistic device to show Lively is coping with a recent loss and therefore has become impulsive and irresponsible, we are straight into the attack.
This becomes the strongest part of the film with the attack hitting us viscerally and the ensuing clean up, involving a home made suture, both gory and scary. We then spend time with Lively as she comes to terms with her potential death, and the ensuing lust for life; luckily we had that phonecall earlier to remind us of the reasons behind her self-destructiveness. All this sounds impossibly simple but Lively sells it with a committed physical performance. A touching relationship with an injured seagull is also surprisingly well thought out.
The final act is where it all falls apart in a sea (see what I did there) of OTT poorly CGI’ed shark attacks and lapses of fire, yes fire. Through it all though you root for Lively to pull it off and it is she who keeps it from falling completely into farce. The final moments eliciting real emotion, although the epilogue is painfully misjudged.
Verdict: A silly teenage wet dream at times saved by a never better Blake Lively and genuine tension.