By Steven Redgrave
This review was written for Pop Culture Leftovers (PCL) and is featured as a Critic Review for PCL on Rotten Tomatoes. PCL was kind enough to allow me to showcase this review on my own website, but I encourage everyone to visit their site for reviews by other writers, and the Pop Culture Leftovers Podcast for which they are primarily known.
After moving to a coastal city in Mexico, Mia (Sophie Nélisse) tags along with her sister, Sasha (Corinne Foxx), and her two new friends, Alexa (Brianne Tju) and Nicole (Sistine Rose Stallone) as they sneak into a recently discovered Mayan city beneath the water. With the intent to explore the tunnels, they find themselves among more than just a sunken ancient native culture.
Director Johannes Roberts returns to this young franchise with more tension, claustrophobia, and action in this sequel to 47 Meters Down (2017), but that’s as far as it goes, giving audiences more of the same. This movie does not provide anything new or innovative to the creature feature genre. Its straightforward and overly predictable plot delivers what fans expect and that is perfectly fine. Even with these foreseeable moments, the movie does a great job at setting an uncomfortable and tense feeling as you wait for what is undoubtedly going to happen. Some jump scares are thrown in, but overall, the fear factor is mainly connected to the unknown of being helpless from all directions and that feeling is played out exceptionally well through out this movie. Some scenes are more focused on smaller underwater tunnels where a shark realistically couldn’t travel, yet the chosen camera angles add a claustrophobic tension and because of this, no location in this Mayan city feels safe. With a budget over twice the amount as the previous, this movie appears to have a stronger focus on the action and CGI.
Where as the original movie took awhile to present the shark infested terror, this movie wastes no time in getting to the suspenseful watery abyss that people want to see. The shark encounters appear for about half of the movie, perhaps more. Unfortunately, the CGI wasn’t as consistent as the sharks’ hunger. Some scenes had visually less believable sharks swimming around, while others felt quite realistic. The inconsistency was noticeable, but for a movie created with a $12 million budget, the overall quality is impressive.
Probably due to the budget, this movie has an incredibly small cast. Some scenes have crowds of extras, but the main and supporting cast could be counted on both hands. As far as the performances go, nobody really stands out, but they aren’t disappointing either. With the exception of John Corbett and Nia Long, who play the sisters’ parents, this is a relatively unknown core cast of young women, but given that experience factor, they have a lot of potential going forward. Everyone is believable as the characters they portray, but the dialogue within this movie is rather weak and comes off as early draft quality that never went through revisions. This is no fault of the actors, who do what they can with the script given to them.
Beyond the dialogue, this movie really relied on audiences taking everything at face value and not thinking too hard about the logical factors of some things, which are merely there to either progress the story or allow interaction among the characters. Specifically, the use of scuba masks that do not cover the actors ears, but somehow allow them to communicate with each other clearly is a bit puzzling. This very same concept was used in the original movie, so it isn’t that surprising to see it return. Other than that audible conundrum and a brief question of feasible biology, the characters were, at times, hard to distinguish between and that caused a bit of confusion during character interactions until their identities were more clear.
47 Meters Down: Uncaged undoubtedly has a handful of problems, ranging from the weak dialogue, illogical use of scuba gear, and at times mediocre CGI, but despite all of that, this young female driven cast provides a fun ride into a short told story of survival among these apex predators. Looking past all of the flaws, this is by definition a “B movie” and provides a satisfying take on the creature feature genre. It isn’t for everyone, but those with a piqued interest will find themselves entertained by the end.