Blake Lively, a shark, and a life and death struggle. That’s really what Jaume Collet-Serra’s The Shallows is all about. And it’s not for the squeamish or those easily frightened, as three people are killed by a marauding great white. Lively plays Nancy, a medical school dropout in search of herself after her mother dies from cancer. When her mother found out she was pregnant, she went to this incredible beach to surf. Nancy is determined to surf the same beach.
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Jaws set the standard for shark movies, and for anyone who has seen it, it’s difficult not to compare the two. So there are frustrating moments when you feel like screaming at Nancy: “You’re a surfer! Why haven’t you seen Jaws?”
She makes the biggest mistake of her life, paddling up to a dead whale to take a closer look. Any primary school student would know that’s a bad idea because there are sure to be sharks feeding on the carcass. Anyone who has surfed for a while would know better.
Nancy is attacked by a great white and manages to swim to a rock where she discovers she has ripped the top of her leg very badly. Lively puts on a believable and powerful performance that stands out from the superhero females of this summer’s movie fare.
While critics were scoffing at the idea of yet another shark thriller for summer – we’ve been burned by a series of really awful ones – the action and gore is so intense that I forgot to eat my popcorn.
Sure the boundary between reality and fiction is crossed several times, and sharks are going to suffer once more from PR problems. But, The Shallows delivers as a thriller, and that’s what counts.