In the taut thriller The Shallows, when Nancy (Blake Lively) is surfing on a secluded beach, she finds herself on the feeding ground of a great white shark. Though she is stranded only 200 yards from shore, survival proves to be the ultimate test of wills, requiring all of Nancy’s ingenuity, resourcefulness, and fortitude.
Rating: PG13 (for bloody images, intense sequences of peril, and brief strong language)
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra
Written By: Anthony Jaswinski
In Theaters: Jun 24, 2016 wide
Box Office: $4804345
Runtime: 87 minutes
Studio: Ombra Films
“Jaws” than a distaff version of “127 Hours.” Like that 2010 drama, which notched James Franco an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of an increasingly desperate hiker whose arm has become wedged between a boulder and a canyon wall, “The Shallows” is essentially a one-person show, in very close quarters. For most of the movie, Lively’s character is stranded on a rock 200 yards off of a remote Mexican beach after being bitten by a great white shark while surfing. That beast, rendered in convincing CGI, continues to circle her menacingly, as well as somewhat inexplicably, considering (a) she has no meat on her bones; (b) it has just eaten three other people; and (c) there’s a buffet of rotting whale carcass a short swim away.
As packaged by writer Anthony Jaswinski and director Jaume Collet-Serra — best known for the Liam Neeson thrillers “Unknown,” “Non-Stop,” “Run All Night” and the forthcoming “The Commuter” — this fish tale gives off something of a Moby-Dick stink, due to the giant hook that appears to have become lodged in the critter’s lip. This makes for an angry — and scary — monster, and the film establishes a nice drumbeat of mounting tension and dread.
Nancy (Blake Lively) travels to a remote beach where she finds herself faced with a great white shark in “The Shallows.” (Courtesy of Columbia Pictures)
Lively, however, is probably not going to win any awards for her performance, which mostly consists of screaming in agony as her character, a med school dropout named Nancy, performs emergency surgery (using a couple of pieces of jewelry) on the nasty flap of thigh meat that has been all but torn away. There is almost no dialogue, other than Nancy talking to herself or to the injured sea gull — a fellow shark victim — with whom she shares her precarious ocean perch. “Are you still out there?” Nancy mutters to her marine tormentor, at just about the movie’s halfway point.
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