47 Meters Down: Uncaged movie review: Don’t watch for the story

47 Meters Down: Uncaged movie photo via EPK.tv
47 Meters Down: Uncaged movie photo via EPK.tv /

While it didn’t rewrite the book in any way, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged is entertaining enough if you’re a fan of the genre.

The follow-up to 2017’s 47 Meters Down, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, released this weekend looking to remind us of our fear of sharks once again. The predecessor wasn’t a critical success but it was a financial one. On a budget of about $5 million, the movie took in a gross of just over $44 million. When you have that type of return on investment, you tend to not care too much about what the critics say.

In Uncaged, a group of four teenage girls decide to explore the ruins of a Mayan city that has been buried underwater. It’s all fun and games until things go completely wrong and they realize they are not alone in these winding tunnels. They realize quickly that the shark is blind, but that only helps them slightly in their quest to escape.

The Story

Outside of the blind shark chasing them, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged does try to tell a bit of a story. However, within the first 10-15 minutes of the movie I knew that I really just wanted these girls to be underwater. Early in the movie none of the girls are interesting. The relationship dynamics and the chemistry are bad, and it really feels like the director just wanted to get the story underwater as well. I’ll give you the setup, though.

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We are first introduced to Mia, played by Sophie Nelisse (The Book Thief, Close), who is a quiet, shy girl picked on by the “hot” girls in the school. Corinne Fox (Sweet/Vicious) plays her step-sister Sasha who is apparently socially accepted at the school and doesn’t want to be associated with Mia.

John Corbett (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and Nia Long (Big Momma’s House) play the two girls’ parents (Corbett playing Nia’s father and Long playing Sasha’s mother.) They establish that the family has moved down to Mexico for Grant’s (Corbett’s character) work and that they would like the girls to look out for each other.

During this part of the story Mia just looks sad and Sasha is a defiant teenager who just wants to hang out with her friends. The girls end up sneaking off with Sasha’s friends Alexa, played by Brianne Tju (Light as a Feather) and Nicole, played by Sistine Rose Stallone (daughter of Sylvester Stallone in her first role) to a secret diving spot.

The spot happens to be where the entrance to the Mayan ruins and “one quick peek at the first room” turns disastrous. The girls have to work together to survive and, of course, this shifts the relationship dynamics.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged movie photo via EPK.tv
47 Meters Down: Uncaged movie photo via EPK.tv /

The peril

Fortunately, they don’t waste a ton of time on the setup and they are underwater rather quickly. Even before things go wrong the claustrophobic nature of their dive is enough to start making you uncomfortable. The ruins are beautiful, but creepy, and there are areas that are tight enough to force them to swim in a single file line.

Eventually, they do run into wildlife, but at first it’s just neat. A quick scare turns into the girls panicking and making their situation worse, and that’s when the sharks come in.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged does a great job of using its setting to mess with the audience. They’re underwater using flashlights to see and that means when the light isn’t on something, you can’t see it. This leads to a lot of scenes where light flashes pass something and you think you see it move but aren’t sure until the water flashes past it again. Or there is a faint light and you can see the outline of something. They also use the tight spaces, the winding tunnels and the widening and narrowing of paths to add to the tension.

Even when the girls are safe from sharks they are not safe from undercurrents or dwindling oxygen supplies. All of this comes together to create some great tension and the girls communication being somewhat limited while underwater helps hide some of the deficiencies there. With this movie, even when you think the coast is clear it isn’t and that makes for a very dramatic (perhaps too dramatic?) ending.

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If you’re going to see 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, I’m going to assume you aren’t going to care much about the story. If that is the case then you will enjoy the underwater dramatics on display. With just an 89 minute runtime, I’d estimate that at least 60 of these minutes are spent completely underwater and at least another 9 in or around water. That’s a good thing.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged is available in theaters now.