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Just enough bite in sexy shark thriller
IF Sports Illustrated took a leaf from Marvel or DC and decide to go into films, the end product would most likely look a bit like The Shallows, a sexy Jaws-inspired thriller starring a tiny bikini with Blake Lively in it.
The shark drama makes no pretence who it is targeting (clue: they are not Tom Hiddleston fans) with taut action scenes and gratuitious shots of Lively getting in and out of her wetsuit. And at a lean and mean running time of just under 90 minutes, The Shallows knows better than to overstay its welcome.
Lively, of TV's Gossip Girl fame, plays Nancy, a medical student who heads to a remote Mexican beach to overcome the grief of recently losing her mother. The site is also where the latter used to vacation but there is no time for a leisurely walk on the sands as director Jaume Collet-Serra, who was behind the Liam Neeson thrillers Non-Stop (2014) and Run All Night (2015) together with screenwriter Anthony Jaswinski, waste no time in chucking the audience straight into the deep end.
It doesn't take long for Nancy to run into her first predators: a pair of local surfer dudes who try to hit on her but whom she easily fends off to be alone.
But in a half-zipped wetsuit and looking very much like the dripping wet bombshell that was Ursula Andress as she emerged from the sea in Dr No (1962), it also comes as no surprise the two dudes are not the only ones circling Nancy as she soon realises a great white is on her case.
All hell breaks lose when the shark snaps her surfboard in two to show it means business and she is left to look for refuge alone on the floating carcass of a dead whale, as well as on a jagged rock that is only visible during a low tide.
Keeping her company - and sane a la Wilson the volleyball Tom Hanks' character adopts as a friend in Castaway (2000) - is a seagull Nancy christens Steven, named after Steven Seagal, the pony-tailed has-been action star; and possibly a sly wink to the cheesiness of the whole film.
As the title also cheekily seems to imply, The Shallows' plot doesn't venture too deep but the special effects are great and the (realistic-looking CGI) shark provides some genuine thrills and spills whenever it pops up to send Nancy to her watery grave. As pure popcorn entertainment, The Shallows has enough bite to keep everyone on the edge of their seats for the entire duration.