47 Meters Down (2017)

  • Time: 87 min
  • Genre: Horror | Thriller
  • Director: Johannes Roberts
  • Cast: Claire Holt, Mandy Moore, Matthew Modine


Two sisters vacationing in Mexico are trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean. With less than an hour of oxygen left and great white sharks circling nearby, they must fight to survive.


  • There’s a scene in Jaws where Richard Dreyfuss is fending off a great white from a shark-proof cage. 47 Meters Down (my latest review) takes that same scene and stretches it out for almost ninety minutes. The difference with “47” is that the waters are much darker, the shark appearances are a given, the cage is at the bottom of the ocean, and there are multiple sharks. Oh and “47’s” ending is one of false hope and implausible triumph. If you’ve seen 2005’s The Descent, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

    Truth be told, there have been countless ripoffs and imitators since Jaws hit theaters over forty years ago. 47 Meters Down isn’t quite a masterpiece but it’s probably the best Jaws mimic of all time. “47” is heads and tails above stuff like Deep Blue Sea, Shark Night, and The Shallows (you could even throw in the Jaws sequels too).

    Yeah there are times when 47 Meters Down is intentionally systematic. Nasty sharks and a mangled, human body seem to come in on cue (it’s for shock value and negates a level of obviousness). Also, the cage in “47” is lowered and brought up with its rope line snapping twice (come on). Finally, Matthew Modine (he plays Captain Taylor) gives the two girls trapped below, instructions on how to survive. It’s monotone, not very dramatic, and it feels as if his lines are being fed to him by the director (Brit Johannes Roberts).

    Despite these shortcomings, I’m still recommending 47 Meters Down. Its modern soundtrack pounces in during the scary moments and the film contains a healthy level of primal fear and primeval instinct. The strongest aspect of “47” is star Mandy Moore. She plays Lisa, a woman who gets dumped by her boyfriend and then ventures to Mexico with her sister (Kate played by Claire Holt). They decide to go cage diving with sharks and get more than they bargained for. Moore’s performance is unassuming, raw, and contains a heightened measure of trepidation. You can’t even tell that she’s acting (and for the record, I thought Mandy retired from appearing in movies altogether). Watch for a scene where Moore’s Lisa has her leg bloodied and caught under the cage. She’s running out of oxygen and has to find a way to bring the extra oxygen tank to her. This sequence and a couple of other sequences, are equal parts manifest and terrifying. As an audience member, your heart will be racing. My rating for 47 Meters Down: A “biting” 3 stars.

    Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

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  • On the heels of last summer’s shark thriller, The Shallows, comes the significantly subpar 47 Metres Down, which features not one but two women in peril.

    Sisters Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) are vacationing in Mexico. Lisa confesses that she was recently dumped by her boyfriend for essentially being too boring and unadventurous. When the sisters meet a pair of locals (Santiago Segura and Yani Gellman) who suggest they go shark-cage diving, the more outgoing Kate convinces Lisa to overcome her hesitation and go for it. After all, won’t the ensuing Instagram photos prove to her boyfriend how wrong he is?

    So the quartet board the Sea Esta, a boat skippered by Captain Taylor (Matthew Modine) for whom the word ramshackle is a generous compliment. Lisa is still voicing her objections, though everyone assures her that she’ll have the time of her life. Indeed, for the first few minutes underwater in the protective cage, her fears are offset by the thrill of observing the great whites swimming around them and the happiness of bonding with her sister. Things soon go awry – the winch on the cable breaks and the cage drops 47 metres down to the bottom of the ocean. With their air supply running out, the danger of nitrogen narcosis setting in, communication with the Sea Esta only possible by swimming out of the cage and ascending a few feet, and sharks sniffing out the bloody chum falling around them, the sisters must find a way to keep alive and in one piece long enough for the rescue team to find them and bring them to shore.

    Apparently it is possible for a survival thriller to be both suspenseful and boring for 47 Metres Down certainly proves that in spades. It takes nearly 30 minutes for the sisters to even get into the cage and then an additional 15 minutes before they’re in any real danger. Even then, there are fairly long stretches in between scares. Not helping matters is the dialogue, which is by-the-numbers and seemingly designed for the sight-impaired. Do audiences really need to hear Lisa exclaiming that a shark almost got her when they’ve just witnessed the scene mere seconds prior? Also grating is Lisa’s never-ending breathless declarations about how frightened she is – all her panic quickly becomes mere white noise.

    Unlike The Shallows, which stripped its premise of everything but the essentials, resulting in a lean and no-nonsense thrill ride, 47 Metres Down maintains more narrative fat than it should. There are attempts to establish issues between the sisters, but they’re so flimsy that the effort isn’t worth it. On the technical side, cinematographer Mark Silk’s use of low-light settings effectively contribute to the dread and claustrophobia. There’s one particularly remarkable image of the underwater murkiness being momentarily lit by a red flare, revealing the sisters to be encircled by sharks. Otherwise, 47 Metres Down offers very little other than standard cheap thrills, and even those don’t do much to make the heart race.

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  • “Lisa, you need to calm down.
    We need to get out of here!
    If you do not calm down, we will die here!”

    In “The Shallows“, Blake Lively at least had a rock in the ocean on which she sat safely while a huge shark circled around her. That was frightening enough. In “47 Meters down” two helpless woman are trapped in a steel cage while being attacked by such bloodthirsty white sharks. And there’s another problem they have to deal with. Oxygen deficiency. There are more pleasant ways to spend your holiday somewhere at an exotic destination. So you see it’s better to follow your instinct (or someone else’s) in such a way that you are spared from such life-threatening situations.

    At first I feared this wouldn’t be such a very interesting film. A whole movie taking place in one and the same location (the bottom of the ocean) and with only two helpless young ladies who had no idea how to escape. “It won’t be more than some panicky scenes and a screen filled with anxiously produced air bubbles” I thought. Well, just another proove that a person can be mistaken. Eventually, this movie was terribly exciting.

    Two sisters, Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt), are on vacation in Mexico and after a night out with two local gigolo’s they are invited to descend into the ocean with the help of a shark cage. The only requirement is them answering affirmatively to the following question : Are they experienced scuba divers? This already says a lot about the professionalism of this organization. As a down-to-earth, realistic person, I would draw a line there and turn my brown-bronzed back on this suspiciously smelling trip. But above all, I would never accept this offer, knowing that I’ve never inhaled a liter of oxygen under water. I would immediately get a panic attack. No problem for these ladies. Lisa has no experience at all, but her reliable sister knows how to convince her. If she dares to do this, she can prove to her ex-boyfriend that she isn’t so boring. So, Kate misses some sense of responsibility and Lisa a lot of brain cells. Or else the Tequila had something to do with it.

    It isn’t necessary to elaborate more. You can predict what will happen. What else to expect when a not so professional-looking crew on a rickety boat lets you sink into the water while they use bloody bait to lure the sharks (which also turns out to be illegal) ? Indeed, before they know it, they are building sandcastles on the bottom of the ocean and a nerve-racking race against time starts. The images themselves are impressive and realistic. The claustrophobic feeling overwhelms you. And the panic and fear of both divers (especially Lisa) is credible. Actual acting is of course not possible when you’re floating around at 47 meters below the water surface. The darkness and the thought of a full-blown “Jaws” attacking you from there, causes the necessary stress and frightening moments.

    Still a few points of criticism. Turns out that a single drop of blood from a wound is enough to attract such a gigantic shark. But when they suddenly try to attack out of the dark, they miss the helpless victim. I immediately conclude that such a shark must have a gigantic, well-developed olfactory organ. But besides that, such a shark is as blind as a mole. Furthermore, I found the computer animation of this predatory fish not quite successful. But I thought the same of the crumpled plastic shark in “The Shallows”. And the denouement is also something that you can discuss. And I doubt whether the event is scientifically correct.

    But all in all, this was a pretty exciting underwater thriller, Cousteau would be happy to watch as well. And apparently there’s already a sequel in the making with the highest original title “48 Meters down“. So the problem will arise just a meter deeper. That’s what pushing boundaries means, I suppose! And for all of those who have plans for future distant journeys, a little advice. Stay safely by the swimming pool and do only excursions organized by the hotel. And get a proper travel insurance before you leave.

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