47 Meters Down: Uncaged
Between the killer-gator flick Crawl a few weeks ago and real-life shark attacks on the news seemingly every day, this is shaping up to be quite the summer of aquatic horrors. Now here to make the waters unsafe are the killer sharks of 47 Meters Down: Uncaged doing what they do – hunting teenagers.
I was as shocked as the next critic when I discovered that 2017’s 47 Meters Down was actually quite good. The story was simple and the drama heightened by the deep waters and family dynamics, but at its core was a tense exercise in how to tell a tale of terror in the deep sea. The limited tools of the performers, as well as a basic understanding provided to the audience about the mechanics of scuba diving, made the 89-minute running time a span during which I had to remind myself to breathe. None of that really applies to the sequel, but it’s still darn fun.
In Uncaged, we’ve got a pair of stepsisters rather than the previously featured traditional sisters. Mia and Sasha (Sophie Nélisse and Corinne Foxx) are not really a bonded pair. Their respective dad and mom (John Corbett and Nia Long) have brought the family to Yucatán while dad maps out a newly discovered, underwater Mayan city. When the two girls decide to spend the day with Sasha’s friends Alexa and Nicole (Brianne Tju and Sistine Stallone), they find themselves with the unique opportunity to explore the underwater city without dad finding out. Though the title is ultimately a misnomer and the city is relatively close to the surface, expected sharks are waiting for them in the abandoned ruins. And not just any sharks – blind, ancient cave-dwelling sharks!
Uncaged is precisely the type of movie that begs you to leave your logic and reasoning at the cinema door. The plot points are dropped like boulders in the dialogue and allowed to sit there until they’re unceremoniously picked up later. Subtlety has no place in killer shark movies, and you will find none of it here. The film has far too many coincidences and moments of pure luck to craft any semblance of realism, but that’s not the point. We’re here to watch sharks, dammit.
And watch sharks we do. These ancient Mayan sharks are gnarly looking, and their blindness only contributes to their imposing appearance. (Considering the surprising proximity of the Mayan culture to modern times and the fact that we have recently found sharks alive today that are nearly 500 years old, it’s not too much of a stretch to think that these are the same sharks that lived alongside the Mayans, but I digress.) They can sneak their way around the various pillars and altars of the city, barely missing our submerged teens. The fear in the characters’ eyes is palpable.
The whole affair is awfully silly but also awfully entertaining. At the end of this long, dangerous summer, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged keeps the scary sharks where they belong – safely on a movie screen.