47 Meters Down Uncaged movie cast: Sophie Nelisse, Corinne Foxx, Sistine Stallone, Brianne Tju, John Corbett
47 Meters Down Uncaged movie director: Johannes Roberts
47 Meters Down Uncaged movie rating: 1.5 stars
Two sisters, locked in a cage, stranded at the bottom of the sea, with white sharks circling around them, and their oxygen running out, won director Johannes Roberts’s 47 Meters Down some box-office success two years back. Enough to have him return with two sisters, stranded in an underwater maze that once used to be a Mayan burial ground, with sharks circling around them, and oxygen running out, this time.
If terror is what you are after, you can do worse than sharks, which remain a favourite even 40 years after Jaws. Here Roberts leaves no trick untried, so that his sharks are blind given the spaces in which they have bred but hence with heightened sensibilities, carry ominous scars running down the side of their bodies, have blood dripping from their teeth, and are featured holding bodies hanging every which way from their razor-sharp incisors.
Their prospective lunch in Uncaged are two step-sisters (Mia and Sasha, played by Nelisse and Foxx, respectively), and Sasha’s friends Alexa (Tju) and Nicole (Stallone). Mia’s father who is white (Corbett) and Sasha’s mother who is black form a perfect, politically correct family, who have come to settle in scenic Yucatan, Mexico. The only trouble in this paradise is the animosity between Mia and Sasha, not helped by the bullying Mia faces at high school.
So, when Alexa and Nicole offer Sasha an adventure of a different kind, instead of the outing where she and Mia are supposed to bond, she tells Mia to tag along.
The adventure turns out to be impromptu diving through some newly discovered underground caves containing a Mayan city. With Mia’s father an archaeologist, she is aware of both the risks and his anger, but is quickly overruled by the others.
So far, so good. While all the four girls are attractive, shapely and stripped down to the basics — undoubtedly a factor — it’s encouraging to see them plan out the dive that most films would have had boys enacting. Unlike their adrenalin-driven counterparts, the girls actually do a bit of forward-thinking, including on how to avoid risks.
But, once they go under, so does the film. Roberts stages almost the entirety of what follows in dark, narrow alleys, and it’s a succession of similar scenes, with torches providing dim light though hardly any visual clarity and radio contact facilitating but disjointed dialogue. The persistent sharks don’t let go, a series of bloody deaths follow, and the girls’ oxygen tanks, we are constantly informed, are depleting. However, the film goes on and on, throwing everything at the girls, from sharp currents to air pockets, without respite and without variation, barely coming up for air.
Nelisse impresses the most, though, as those famous surnames Foxx and Stallone indicate, she is in illustrious company. Is that what is keeping this sequel afloat?