47 Meters Down: Uncaged shares a name and a director with 47 Meters Down. Both movies involve sharks. So I guess this is a sequel. The two films share no characters, but otherwise their plots are entirely the same. The only difference is in the title: 47 Meters Down had a cage, and 47 Meters Down: Uncaged does not.
If you read my review of 47 Meters Down, then you know it was one of my least favorite movies of 2017. It is empty, uninteresting, and had the most pitifully-written characters of that year. 47 Meters Down: Uncaged somehow manages to take that low, low bar and slide under it limbo style.
Like 47 Meters Down, the core characters are sisters (step-sisters, technically). Mia (Sophie Nelisse) is bullied at school. Her sister Sasha (Corinne Foxx) and Sasha’s friends (Brianne Tju and Sistine Stallone) ignore the bullying out of embarrassment (until two scenes later when they all suddenly decide to rally behind Mia).
This is the introduction of our characters, but it is truly a meaningless setup to a film that only cares about one thing: watching women get torn apart by giant sharks. The relationship between these four characters is utterly unimportant, and their personalities are less important. Roberts inserts these first few scenes in order to give this movie some semblance of plot, then proceeds to shoot the four women in bikinis on the water like its an American Apparel advertisement.
The dual protagonists in 47 Meters Down were horribly written, as their sole focus appeared to be one of their ex-boyfriends, but at least that script pretended like the two had a real relationship to each other. 47 Meters Down: Uncaged decides the best way to establish the characters’ friendship is to shoot them, gratuitously and in slow-mo, having fun in the sun.
Then, they dive down into an underwater Mayan city infested with sharks that look about as good as the CGI sharks in Sharknado. The script may as well have started there; at the very least it would have saved us all 15 minutes of our time.
Once submerged, the film proceeds to look terrible. Most of the time, the shots are covered in such a heavy murky-water filter that you can’t see who is in frame or what they are doing until right before the shot ends. This isn’t too much of a problem, though, as most of the time what they are doing is simply swimming through tunnels. It is slow and tedious. Slow. And. Tedious.
The only interruption from the tedium is when a shark will wrench its frame onto the screen and nab one of our characters. Most of these instances take seconds to play out, and there are only a finite number of times when the script can afford to execute them. As a result, most of the “tension” stems from lowering supplies of oxygen (exactly like the previous film) and the four women shouting and panting (like the previous film, only with less actual dialogue interspersed between shouts).
In my view, the only tense shot involving a shark is the very first time that we see one, and this is because it is a quiet and unexpected moment. Unexpected, that is, because it shows restraint. Every other shot of a shark is loud and awkwardly framed. It doesn’t help, of course, that the visual effect of the shark looks like something out of a SyFy Original Movie.
47 Meters Down: Uncaged is grating, dull, and uneventful. When the action does kick into gear, a headache-inducing score from tomandandy kicks in. Between the brief action set pieces are long stretches where nothing of import happens. Because we have no understanding of who these people are, they are uninteresting to watch or listen to. When someone dies, there is a similar disinterest.
At least the opening credits sequence is aesthetically pleasing. One wonders why that underwater filming looks so much better than every other underwater shot in the film.
47 Meters Down: Uncaged: D-
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)