There's sharks in these tense waters - The Buffalo News

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There's sharks in these tense waters

It's all Stewart's fault in "47 Meters Down." You never even see the dude but he's the one who sets the whole blood feast in motion.

He dumps his girlfriend Lisa because she's too boring for him. So Lisa, who had already arranged a Mexico jaunt with Stewart, wrangles her younger sister Kate instead for company. Lisa is so ashamed of being cast aside by Stewart that, at first, she lies and says Stewart couldn't get away from work. Does this sound like the premise of the recent comic turkey "Snatched?" Let it pass.

Eventually, many tears later, that truth comes out. The 20-something women are then committed to Fun in Mexico, capital F. They'll show Stewart. Oh yes they will.

So they're ripe and ready when a couple of good-looking local boys pick them up in a bar and tell them about a wonderful amusement in their resort town – getting into an iron cage, going down five meters into the water and watching, in iron safety, as the sharks mill about. 100 bucks apiece. Think of the pictures, they tell each other.

What could possibly go wrong? If you've ever seen a movie before, your answers to that question could take half the movie. Your movie is on its way.

Lisa, for one thing, is not a trained diver. She's just a cautious, sensible, lovely girl who just got overthrown by a cad. Her younger sister, on the other hand, goes through boys like tissues. She's a trained scuba diver and is always up for doing something you can brag about in a bar a couple of hours later. She's the family daredevil, which is another word for idiot.

You think there might be a problem when they get to the old rustbucket tub with the cage they'll be in dangling off the back. Matthew Modine is the excursion captain. Right then, most of us would turn on our heels and go back to the hotel for margaritas. Anyone entrusting their hides to Modine deserves whatever comes their way.

He's an American expatriate. His Mexican assistant, Javier, who listens to the fears of his passengers, smiles and says to the local boys "Gringas aqui. No sabe nada."

True enough. When the captain chums the water with stinking blood to attract the sharks, you'd think the young ladies might have a qualm or two. They get into the cage anyway – Kate with alacrity, Lisa still tasting, no doubt, the residue of her recent upchuck in the boat bathroom.

And then the Fun starts. The winch fails, the cage drops 47 meters down with the young women in it. Their air supply is limited. It's panic in what the movie people like to call "real time." Wait until Stewart hears about how much Fun his boring ex really is.

This is summer rubbish – a shark number with beautiful young women in jeopardy, to scare the "let's see something really scary at the megaplex" crowd. But it's very good shark-bitten rubbish –written with enough stupidity to chum the waters for the least discriminating sharks. ("Sharks can hear your heartbeat five miles away," the captain advises his shark spotters. "They can sense when you're frightened.") It's well-directed by Brit Johannes Roberts and, as the distressed young sharkbait, Mandy Moore and Claire Holt get the job done.

This is, as such things go, a first-rate summer scare throwaway. You plunk down your money to get a few jolts, to curl your toes during the suspense and laugh at the stupidity of the calamity procession the script gets away with.

A cautionary tale for "gringas" on vacation. And to hell with Stewart anyway.

"47 Meters Down"

Three and a half out of four stars

Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine in Johannes Roberts' horror thriller about two young American women trapped in a cage underwater while their air tanks run out and hungry sharks circle inches away. Rated PG-13 for intense suspense and scares. 89 minutes.

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