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The Shallows Review

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Six years ago, Ryan Reynolds delivered the intense, minimalist one man show Buried. Now, it’s his wife’s turn with Blake Lively swapping out a coffin buried somewhere in Iraq for a reef 180 metres from a beach in Mexico for The Shallows, which throws a hefty dose of Jaws into the mix. Lively’s Nancy is an avid surfer whose encounter with a great white shark leads to a battle of survival as she is traded with the shore in sight but no way to get there. What follows in the movie’s lean 86 minute run time elevates this almost b-movie plot into an intense, unsettling thriller.


Directed by Non-Stop's Jaume Collet-Serra, there never feels like there is a wasted minute in The Shallows. Even the lackadaisical first act, which really makes you think we’ve been duped into watching a surfing doc, does a great job of setting up plot threads that make the character of Nancy more than just potential shark chow. It’s when we get our first glimpse of the movie’s sea bound attacker, terrifyingly framed in the wave Nancy is blissfully surfing, that the movie kicks into high gear, and never really lets up after that. The story moves along at a fantastic rate as Nancy’s predicament gets increasingly more desperate, and while it is rarely seen, the shark is built up to be a very real threat. You’ll spend much of the movie on the edge of your seat, waiting for it to rear it’s teeth filled head, and it will still surprise you when it does. Collet-Serra comes up with some unique ways to make the usual shark attack tropes feel fresh, and they succeed for the most part, and each encounter with our hungry antagonist becomes increasingly unsettling as the story surges forward. The camera work here is impeccable, from aforementioned first glimpse of the shark to some astounding use of go-pro, going a long way to keeping the audience entertained.

After a suspense filled second act, the third act throws us a curveball and goes into full on action territory, complete with rousing orchestral score and sassy one liner, but it never once feels out of place. Actually, it feels earned as we had a front row seat to Nancy’s desperate fight for survival, and most of that is thanks to Lively’s powerful lead performance. Spending the bulk of the movie acting across from a seagull (wonderfully named Stephen Seagull), she sells Nancy’s desperation perfectly and isn’t afraid to get psychical when the time calls for it. This battle of wits takes its toll on her, but each setback, each attack makes the character stronger, and the actress has a spark of likability that will get you fully behind her and her struggle almost immediately.

Tackling a story that hasn’t really been handled like this before, The Shallows presents familiar tropes  in a refreshing new way, delivering a thrilling slice of suspense that will not fail to leave you entertained.






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The Movie Bit: The Shallows Review
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