Directed by: Johannes Roberts
Written by: Ernest Riera, Johannes Roberts
Starring: Sophie Nélisse, Corinne Foxx, Brianne Tju, Sistine Stallone, and John Corbett
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense peril, bloody images, and brief strong language
Release date: August 16, 2019 (USA)
Run-time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

I love a good shark movie. Since as far back as I can remember, I have been fascinated by sharks. I think they’re some of the most interesting creatures on our planet. Even when I was a kid, I used to wear shark tooth necklaces because I thought they were so cool. Basically any time you’ve got sharks in a movie, I’m all in for it. Amusingly enough, that same sentiment does not apply to video games where I think they’re terrifying! (Jaws on the original Nintendo freaked-me-out as a child.) Having said all that, I was excited to see 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, even though I missed out on the original film back in 2017. Johannes Roberts, the director of the minimalistic first film, 47 Meters Down, returns for this sequel and brings back the great white sharks, but shakes up for the formula a bit by adding an underwater maze to the mix.

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The sequel focuses on teenaged loner Mia (Sophie Nélisse) who has recently relocated to Mexico with her father and step-family. Her father Grant (John Corbett) scouts and maps out underwater locations for a living, and has recently discovered an ancient sunken Mayan city. With the help of his two assistants, he’s currently in the process of mapping out its maze-like design. One day, Mia joins her sister Sasha (Corinne Foxx) whose two friends, Alexa (Brianne Tju) and Nicole (Sistine Stallone), take them to a hidden local cove for a day of fun. This location turns out to be one of the entrances to the historic labyrinth that Mia’s father Grant has been exploring. Alexa, who once dated one of Grant’s assistants, had gone diving with this former boyfriend into the submerged city before. Upon finding enough extra scuba gear for all of them on a floating dock in this isolated cove, Alexa pressures her friends into joining her on a brief underwater tour that ends up being anything but.

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This sunken Mayan labyrinth that the four girls go inside to explore is the setting for most of the film. They’re supposed to be following Alexa, who knows part of the maze well enough to navigate it without getting them lost, but their stubborn and defiant friend Nicole decides to venture off-course and winds up endangering them all. In the aftermath of Nicole’s senselessness, a pillar gets knocked over, creating a domino effect of destruction that causes the entrance they came in through to collapse and get sealed off. Now they’ll have to find another way out. With limited oxygen and even less light and visibility, the girls have to swim deeper into the maze to try to look for an exit.

Quickly the girls come to discover they’re not as alone in this labyrinth as they first thought, and they find themselves in the presence of great white sharks. These sharks, blind from living their whole lives in the darkness of this lost city, have their other senses heightened as a result, and they’re on the hunt for blood. The arrival of these sharks, however, opens up a big plot hole in the story. How is it that Mia’s father has never seen these deadly sharks nor made any reference to them when he’s already spent weeks, possibly even months, exploring this sunken city? I suppose it’s possible that in the collapse of the entrance, another passageway may have opened up that let the sharks in. However, that logic doesn’t hold up, because had they came in from outside, they wouldn’t be blind. These particular sharks evolved down here, so it’s hard to believe they were never noticed before, especially considering how violent and aggressive they are.

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That’s far from being the only problem with these sharks, though. They also look flat out awful. The quality of their special effects in this film is simply pitiful. I’m not even exaggerating when I say they often reminded me of that infamously bad shark attack scene from Jaws 3D. They look so fake and unbelievable that instead of feeling any sense of fear when they randomly appeared, I couldn’t help but cringe. It literally looks almost as bad as the Sharknado movies, but the key difference is that unlike the intentionally campy Sharknado movies, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged is actually trying to take itself seriously. Plus it has even has double the budget to work with.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged takes a very lazy and bare-bones approach to filmmaking. The story lacks substance, the characters and dialogue lack depth, and the visuals throughout most of the film are muddied and unclear. It’s rough on the eyes because the visuals are so obscured and are shrouded in so much darkness that it’s hard to actually see what’s happening on screen. This is often exploited as a cheap tactic to create jump scares by having the sharks suddenly appear from literally out of nowhere, which seems especially hard to believe since it’s doubtful these large sharks could smoothly navigate most of these narrow passageways in the first place. Despite the restrictive maze design, the film fails to create a sense of claustrophobia, and instead just gave me a headache.

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The story progression in the film mostly feels generic and expected. There are new complications that arise and circumstances that change, but it’s all pretty standard fare. The ending, however, sets up a decent scenario, but it ends up being ruined by how unrealistic it is. Besides, after wading through all of the garbage to get there, I couldn’t be bothered to care much at that point. The acting in the film is mostly poor, but truthfully they’re never given much to work with. It’s also difficult to keep track of who is who once they’re inside the maze anyway because the visuals are so muddled. The movie does feature its share of violence and death, but its light on the gore and to me it always felt unsatisfying.

In all, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged sinks right to the bottom of my rating list as the worst movie I’ve seen in 2019. It’s lazy and bland to the point of being exhausting. There’s ultimately not one single thing about it that I can sincerely commend. The only thing I’m probably going to remember this movie for is how dreadful it looks and the 90 minutes of boredom and disappointment it caused me.

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5 Minute Movie Guy

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