In a summer full of epic super hero showdowns and animated antics comes a rather simple, straight forward movie about survival. 47 Meters Down isn’t flashy, it’s not epic, and it’s definitely not complicated. It’s a simple story about two girls trying to survive…under water…surrounded by sharks…with their air rapidly running out. That’s it. It’s a tense, thrilling, sometimes corny but definitely fun little flick, and in a summer full of bombast and bigger is better, its smallness and simplicity is refreshingly enjoyable. In fact, 47 Meters Down is the perfect bite-sized bit of summer fun.
To be honest, I was sort of expecting a cheesy but fun shark film with jump scares and groan inducing dialogue. While there is that, the truth is 47 Meters Down is a genuinely taut, tense and thrilling tale about survival. Yes, there are sharks, but they aren’t the focus of the story. In fact, they’re used rather sparingly. They provide a sense of imminent danger that could strike unexpectedly at any time, but I appreciate how they aren’t made out to be the “bad guys” of the movie. The sharks here aren’t merciless killers stalking human prey, they’re just creatures of the deep that do what they do, resulting in unfortunate circumstances when their world crosses with the human world. Indeed, this less is more approach is applied throughout the film, giving it a brisk pace, tense atmosphere, and doesn’t allow you to linger long on the elements that actually are cheesy or just don’t make too much sense.
There is something to be said, however, for avoiding that which you know is dangerous. I think the movie overplays its hand just a bit with how many times the reluctant Lisa has to be talked into this ill-fated adventure by her sister Kate. We all know things are going to go bad, so it gets a bit tedious that there are basically three different times Lisa is encouraged to throw her reservations to wind and just do this thing. If she was that uncertain about it, why couldn’t she just stick with her common sense, especially in light of her sister’s weak argument of, “You want to be fun, don’t you?” (Because if she did, we wouldn’t have a movie, duh!) Still, that’s the way temptation works sometimes, isn’t it? It’s not so much the deception that gets us, we just get worn down. We know it’s wrong, we know it’s dangerous, but we just get tired of saying no. So we eventually give in to “just get it over with and stop asking me already!” and, of course, the results are predictably disastrous. The real problem is that regardless of how much we resist, no matter how much good reason and common sense tries to tell us otherwise, if we’re honest, deep down the truth is we wanted to get worn down into submission because secretly, despite knowing what the result might be, we really do want to give in and do that thing that we don’t want to do. James puts it this way, “but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to death sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15) That becomes the literal truth in this movie; as doing what you know is wrong and just plain isn’t a good idea leads to death. Sure, sin can be thrilling, for a time. Swimming with sharks can be thrilling, for a time. But once things go on too long and get too far out of bounds, the consequence are severe. Long story short; don’t mess around with sin and temptation, flee in the opposite direction and it will go well with you.
47 Meters Down is a small movie in every sense of the word. It’s basically a cast of two, it’s run time is well under two hours, there’s nary an epic explosion to be seen, and despite a few corny moments, it never really goes over the top. However, the most important thing is this film is a lot of fun. There several moments that caused the audience to jump and scream; the sound of summer fun at the movies. 47 Meters Down isn’t a great movie by any stretch, but the consensus at our screening was that it was far better than anyone expected. It’s like Goldilocks’s perfect bowl of porridge; it’s not too much, it’s not too little, it’s just right. So if you’re looking for something a little different at the movies this summer, if you just want to kick back and have some thrills and fun, you should definitely take a trip 47 Meters Down.
Score: 5 of 7 – There’s some language, plenty of scares, and a few bloody moments; plus a whole lot of tension and imminent danger throughout this movie. It’s not overtly gory, but it may be too intense for the little ones. Overall though, it’s a surprisingly restrained movie, and that restraint serves it well as it’s also a surprisingly enjoyable summer flick.