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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

47 Meters Down movie review: jumping the shark

47 Meters Down yellow light

MaryAnn’s quick take…
Originally slated for a VOD release, and it feels like it: the few moments of simple tension quickly dissipate in the murky and not very shark-infested depths.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): I’m desperate for movies about women
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Though it seems the obvious explanation for its existence, 47 Meters Down is not, in fact, a cheaply assembled response to the success of last summer’s terrific Blake Lively-versus-shark thriller The Shallows. Instead, a movie that was completed and slated for a straight-to-VOD last August morphed into a theatrical release… very likely in response to the success of The Shallows. Be not fooled, though: there may be double the number of women in jeopardy in 47 but much less than half the amount of shark or suspense. On vacay in Mexico, American Lisa (Mandy Moore: Swinging with the Finkels) lets her sister, Kate (Claire Holt), talk her into cage diving to swim with sharks, as a way to show Lisa’s ex-boyfriend, who just dumped her, that she’s not “boring,” which might make him jealous, and maybe she’d even be able to win him back. These are not good motivations for such an endeavor, and indeed, luck is not with the women: the winch holding the cage just underwater snaps off its rickety boat and causes them — in the cage — to plummet to the ocean floor, where they are surrounded by sharks (apparently; we barely see them) and increasingly low on air. How o how will they be rescued? Director Johannes Roberts (Storage 24) manages to whip up a few moments of simple tension, but far more of it involves that impending emptying of scuba tanks than anything to do with toothy prehistoric ocean monsters, which we had been promised would be the big baddies. Even when a shark or two makes an appearance, we often cannot see what is happening, and that little bit of terror quickly dissipates in the murky depths.

Click here for my ranking of this and 2017’s other releases.

yellow light 2.5 stars

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47 Meters Down (2017) | directed by Johannes Roberts
US/Can release: Jun 16 2017
UK/Ire release: Jul 26 2017

MPAA: rated PG-13 for sequences of intense peril, bloody images, and brief strong language
BBFC: rated 15 (sustained threat, infrequent strong injury detail)

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • Owen1120

    What was your opinion on the end? I read an article about it, and it appeared to be very divisive.

  • RogerBW

    From a scuba-diving point of view, at 47 metres you’ll probably be seriously narced (which makes normal people behave more like people in films), but most crucially the air tank which would have lasted you an hour for a normal 60-foot dive will be empty in 20-30 minutes – and that’s assuming you don’t breathe any faster, which these inexperienced divers probably will be doing. Also when you do that emergency ascent you’ll give yourself serious decompression sickness.

    I have no idea how much of this is in the film, but since the trailer didn’t show any character development other than “is pretty and female” I had to think about something.

  • Owen1120

    A huge amount of that is in the film- can I spoil the ending for you?

  • RogerBW

    I don’t mind. The usual approach here is to use the Disqus spoiler tags.

  • Danielm80

    It might also be a good idea to write “SPOILERS,” because, for some reason, the hidden text remains visible on the “Latest Comments” page. In this case, I don’t mind being spoiled, since there’s no chance I’m going to see the movie, but other people may feel differently.

  • Owen1120


    The captain does have to refill their oxygen tanks right before they are going to die because he is worried about “nitrogen narcosis,” which are hallucinations/unusual cognitive behavior. He encourages the women to watch out for each other. Then, one of the women has a mild hallucination, but she catches herself and realizes what’s happening. The film ends with them swimming to the surface, warding off sharks, going slow enough to avoid decompression sickness, and more- eventually, they both make it to the surface.

    Until it is revealed that one of them hallucinated the whole thing and one of them is back in the cage again (the other one was already eaten).

    Until I see the movie, I don’t know if it’s regarded as a bold twist or a lazy cop-out (how could someone hallucinate movie-style jump scares and action scenes?)

  • Bluejay


    Until it is revealed that one of them hallucinated the whole thing and one of them is back in the cage again (the other one was already eaten).

    Really? Wow. That seems lame as hell. I hate it when the whole movie is basically saying “Psyche!” to the viewer.

    Plot summary: “Character hallucinates entire movie.” Sounds like a cop-out to me, particularly if the reveal doesn’t shed any new light or add any new meaning to the actual situation.

  • Danielm80

    Maybe I’ll go see Incident at Owl Creek Bridge again.

  • Owen1120

    The first hour of the movie still happened- she only hallucinated the action finale. What if in “The Wizard of Oz” there was a scene before the tornado where Dorothy talked about her frequent hallucinations for five minutes?

  • RogerBW

    OK, I wasn’t planning to see this anyway, but I’m really not now.

    I won’t say hallucinations are impossible at that depth, but they’re certainly pretty unlikely. Much more usual would be “happy drunk”, bad choices and fixed ideas, but motor functions still working fairly normally.
    (I do hope they didn’t say “oxygen tanks” because then they’d be dying of oxygen toxicity instead.)

  • Tonio Kruger

    I was going to go do that last night but then I woke up and realized it was all a dream…

  • Hilda

    If just looking at the trailer is not fun, I found them full stream here [ SQUAD.LIGHT-MOVIE.US ]

    And you can also download them, so you just copy & paste the bold text in new tab

  • Cheap and cheaty.

  • You know how the film ends but you haven’t seen it yet? Why? How?

  • *The Wizard of Oz* has a lot more substance to it than this movie does. *Oz* doesn’t feel like a cheat. This movie does.

  • Owen1120

    I mentioned earlier that I read an article (the A.V. Club review) that had mentioned the lazy twist. Then, there was a link to a separate page with a spoiler warning on it, where I read the end. Because the end seemed like a lazy cop-out to me, and you had not mentioned it, I wondered what you thought of it.

  • Tonio Kruger

    For what it’s worth, I knew what you meant the first time. But it’s good that you caught your own error and corrected it. Besides, we all have moments in which it’s fairly obvious that what we meant to write was not the same thing as what we actually wrote.

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