Fins ain’t what they used to be.
OK, OK, so I must be about the last person in the country – at least, those who want to see this at the cinema – who actually has! Maybe its something about the summer slipping into autumn that made me crave for one last summer blockbuster hoorah! In any case, I feel like a bit of a traitor, since I was very scathing about this film’s trailer when it came out. But – do you know – as a brainless piece of popcorn entertainment, I quite enjoyed it!
Jason Statham – the unthinking man’s Dwayne Johnson – plays our hero Jonas Taylor. (Jonas? Surely some sly joke?). Jonas is drinking his life away in Thailand after being traumatised by an underwater rescue mission in which he was 90% successful. (Yeah, I know. Bloody perfectionists. Hate ’em). But he is needed again, since his cute ex-wife Lori (Jessica McNamee) is stuck at the bottom of the sea being terrorised by a terrifying creature: no, not Spongebob Square Pants… the titular prehistoric shark.
Lori is working at an undersea research station – Mana One – off the coast of China, funded by the annoyingly brash billionaire Morris (Rainn Wilson, from “The Office”), who you just HOPE HOPE HOPE will get munched at some point!
Running the station (in the most shameless Hollywood/Chinese market crossover since “The Great Wall“) is Zhang (Winston Chao) assisted by his cute daughter Suyin (played by the gloriously named and very talented Bingbing Li) and his even cuter granddaughter Meiying (Sophia Cai). The race is on to use their brains and Taylor’s brawn to stop the monster from reaching the seaside resort of Sanya Bay for lunch.
The action is, of course, absurd with so many near misses for Jonas from gnashing teeth that he could be The Meg’s registered dentist. There is a really nice dynamic though built up between Jonas, his potential cross-cultural love interest Suyin and young Meiying. Suyin is a classic TimesUp heroine for 2018, with an assertive f***-you attitude and not remotely giving an inch to Statham’s hero.
But it’s young Sophia as Meying who really steals lines and steals hearts with a truly charming performance, and would get my ‘man of the match’ were it not for…
…research assistant Jaxx (Australian model, Ruby Rose). She has an absolutely extraordinary look in this film. Chiselled and tattooed, she literally looks like she has stepped out of a Final Fantasy video game… and acts well too: the complete package.
As referenced above, the Hollywood/Chinese crossover is quite striking in this film, with the Chinese beach location looking like Amity Island on crack! (Cue the overweight Chinese kid as the Jaws “Alex” replacement… who knew China had a child obesity issue too… and that they also have ‘Zoom’ ice lollies!) Unusually for a mainstream Western film, a significant number of lines in the film are in Chinese with English subtitles.
In the league table of shark movies, it is far nearer to “Deep Blue Sea” than it is to “Jaws”, the reigning league champion, and all are far in excess of the ridiculous “Sharknado”. But compared to “Deep Blue Sea”, and even compared to “Jaws” – now, astonishingly, 43 years old! – it’s a curiously bloodless concoction, presumably to guarantee it’s 12A certificate. I have seen far bloodier and more violent 12A’s, and if anything I think director Jon Turteltaub (“National Treasure”) rather overdid the sanitisation.
It’s not going to win many gongs at the Oscars, but it is a slice of movie fun nonetheless.
Fad Rating: FFF.