The Shallows: A Fun Thriller That Knows Exactly What It Is
The Shallows is a perfect summer movie because it doesn’t take itself seriously and provides solid escapist fun. There is something comforting about a movie that simply wants to entertain and has no plans for future sequels or spin-offs. It is unpretentious and ridiculous, but it is actually good and you can tell that skilled filmmakers thought a lot about the simple story.
The Shallows revolves around a surfing trip gone awry in a tropical paradise. The lead character Nancy (Blake Lively) is reeling from the loss of her mother, so she takes a break from medical school and travels to a mythical surfing ground that her mother loved to surf. The beautiful and isolated area is nearly perfect until Nancy finds herself attacked by a shark. Normally, the shark wouldn’t be in the shallows but it killed a whale and is using it as an all-you-can-eat buffet as it slowly floats ashore. Luckily, it is low tide and Nancy is able to climb atop some rocks about 200 yard from shore. From there, she and a seagull deal with repeated attacks, blood-loss, high tide and stinging jellyfish.
The Shallows is fully-aware that it is about a beautiful woman in a bikini battling a CGI shark. It is pure pulp shenanigans that happily shows enough skin and shark attacks to appease everyone. The 87-minute runtime is lean on backstory and moves confidently from one set piece to another. I loved how Nancy wasn’t some naive American in a foreign land, and I appreciated that she was able to speak just enough Spanish to make it seem like she actually cared about fitting in. A lot of credit goes to Blake Lively because she is in pretty much every frame of The Shallows and is able to pull of the physicality and act through the overly melodramatic subplot.
If you are in the mood for a fun thriller that doesn’t take itself too seriously I totally recommend The Shallows. It knows what it is and doesn’t care that it features a shark that constantly changes in size. Director Jaume Collet-Serra (Non-Stop) should be proud of his work and I’m stoked to see what he does next.