Sunday, June 25, 2017

47 meters down [2017]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III) (2 Stars)  AVClub (C+)  Fr. Dennis (1 Star)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Los Angeles Times (K. Walsh) review (P. Sobczynski) review
AVClub (M. D'Angelo) review

47 meters down [2017] (directed and screenplay cowritten by Johannes Roberts along with Ernest Riera) is a film similar to, if IMHO _far more problematic_, than last year's "shark movie" The Shallows [2016].

In the current film, two young North American women, Lisa and Kate (played by Mandy Moore and Claire Holt respectively), "on vacation" to Mexico consent to (are talked into?) being sent down into shark infested waters in a small metal cage lowered into the sea from an already quite rickety-looking local commercial fishing boat, and ... much (often terrible...) ... ensues.

I suppose the message to young Western / North American tourists is: Don't be idiots (!).  It's one thing to "not be racist" / to _try_ to experience local indigenous culture BUT ... most people, both North American or far more _local_, taking ONE LOOK AT THAT BOAT, and _NOT QUESTIONING_ the intentions of the crew would say: "No gracias, no se ofenden pero no me pongo en esa barca ..." ("No thanks, don't be offended but there's NO WAY that I'm getting on that boat much less in that cage...") and that'd be that.

But in this film, we have _two_ naive North American women taking a really bad risk with a number of local (and one must call this for what it is) "men of darker complexion" whose motives while _perhaps_ not evil were nonetheless _necessarily inscrutable_ and ...

And let's be totally honest here: About 15 years ago, a young and perhaps quite naive North American woman, Natalee Holloway, disappeared on a high school senior trip to the still WHITE DOMINATED Dutch colonial possession of Aruba (an island in the Caribbean) and was probably killed and perhaps even _thrown to the sharks_ (to dispose of her body, never found...), while in the company of a VERY WHITE Dutch colonial local named Joran van der Sloot who while never convicted of a crime in Holloway's tragedy, some years later was convicted of murdering a local Peruvian woman while on vacation in Peru.

So the racial undertones of this film in which two white North American women find themselves (or put themselves) in danger while in the company of _darker skinned_ "locals" while on vacation are ... well, at minimum _unfortunate_ and perhaps even _wildly unfair_.

I wonder if the film would have been "better" if the two North Americans had been a young heterosexual couple (or perhaps themselves of color_), so the film would have not been about _just_ "naive young white women folk in danger... (and in need of "protection"....)" 

In any case, it's not racist to say to tell a group of young men, be they "of color" or "dashing red-mained" _white men_, descendants perhaps even of former slave owners, to say: "Hey, WE DON'T KNOW YOU, and there's NO WAY we're getting on THAT BOAT (or ANY BOAT) with you"

But then that would make for a very different movie ...

In contrast, Blake Lively's surfer in The Shallows [2016] faced _simply_  ... a really big, really driven ... shark.  Again, a much better and much less problematic film.

So while certainly "giving thrills" and perhaps serving as _a cautionary tale_ the current film is IMHO quite fatally mixed with unfortunate racial undertones that needent have had to have been there (and if they weren't would have made for a much better film) -- 1 Star.

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