In 47 Meters Down Uncaged, we return to the water for this summer’s second round of terror after Crawl. A sequel, the first one did well enough to warrant this one. It continues the cycle of yearly shark-attack survival thrillers rolled out through the last decade, a small feat, but you have to ask yourself: do we need another one?
Mia (Sophie Nélisse) and Sasha (Corinne Foxx) are stepsisters who don’t really connect. To give the two of them time together, their dad (John Corbett) books them a boat ride to observe sharks in the ocean. They decide to ditch and explore the Mayan caves and a sacrificial temple he is mapping for some archaeologists. The cave is underwater so it’s a deep dive and happens to have its own little ecosystem of fish — including two blind man-eating sharks. Why send the girls to see sharks when the sharks can come to them unexpectedly, right?
It lives up to the title. Returning director Johannes Roberts throws away the cage and sends the young antagonists down (presumably) 47 meters. He just doesn’t do a lot that’s terribly new.
Unfolding like a combination of The Shallows and the underrated found-footage suspense thriller As Above, So Below (2014), elements of ancient caverns and a well-intentioned trip to Mexico going horribly awry are present and accounted for, but they don’t feel fresh in spite of the tropical terrain. Underground tunnel systems and civilizations are similar to what we saw in The Meg — with a subocean under the Pacific where evolution works differently — and something Godzilla already did this year with a Hollow-Earth plot wrinkle.
The first 47 Meters Down was contained, in more ways than one. Its main cast was small: relegated to two women. Roberts doubles that count — naturally — and skews younger with the actresses. They sunbathe too so there is more in the way of eye candy this time. Altogether, it gives Uncaged the vibe of a 70s/80s slasher or monster flick, but the resemblance to the era is minimal.
A big selling point is the stars are children of famous actors. Corinne Foxx is the daughter of Jamie Foxx and one of her friends is played by Sistine Rose Stallone, child of Sly. Foxx’s performance is passable, probably something she’ll look back on as a learning experience — more than as an edgy masterpiece. Stallone really has nothing to do and clings to the background. Worse, she is the first to get eaten, leaving her with greater comparison here to her uncle Frank than dear old dad.
The others handle themselves against the hungry beasts and its a conundrum. Considering how boxed in they are, panicking while running out of air, any of them making it out alive at all is hardly plausible. And more gets thrown in their way even after they leave the cave.
Worse than that, the gals are not fleshed out very well. They’re kind of likable but could be more interesting. Mia and Sasha have a strained kinship being stepsiblings of different racial backgrounds, although there is no substantive resentment or rift or drama between the two. In actuality, they don’t click simply because Sasha is Miss Popular and Mia doesn’t really fit in at school. (Yeah, that’s basically it.)
Crawl took the time to make us care for its lead duo of survivors. Roberts cuts corners. He has one interesting character in John Corbett; unfortunately, he’s barely in it and…well, think Samuel L. Jackson in Deep Blue Sea. Everybody is rather disposable.
Co-written by Roberts, it has its moments but relies on jump scares more than anything. The gore isn’t what you get in Crawl and the sense of menace and dark is not that of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
While not a long movie, proceedings are stretched out by false finishes and dumb panic-stricken moves by characters. Rope breaks so they decide, “Whatever, better to traverse the winding cave tunnels and their whirlpools with almost no air left than figure out how to climb out of a hole.”
There is also this forced callback with a shark tooth that feels like it comes up solely because somebody remembered it last-minute during a rewrite. Foreshadowing is good, but not for something so small and forgettable.
Detailed as they are with scars aplenty, they look like cheap CGI creations much of the time and have nothing on Crawl’s gators, except their bites don’t render intrepid female swimmers immobile either.
OK, they are blind which is different and has potential but they act just like the Meg, the Great White in The Shallows, and those tempestuous maneaters in the Sharknado franchise. Ghost Shark was a cooler idea.
Still not as bad as a Jaws sequel, 47 Meters Down Uncaged is entertaining and, much like Scary Stories, comes out at the right time of year, but it’s one you can wait for when it drops on Netflix or another streamer.
- John Corbett is likable as always.
- Stars Corinne Foxx and Sophie Nélisse show promise and will hopefully only get better.
- Sets and locations look good.
- Corbett is wasted.
- Too many extra twists tacked on that pad the runtime.