Into the Blue

Into the Blue (2005)

Into the Blue first published by EyeforFilm, 21 Oct 2005

In the Bahamas, unemployed boatman Jared (Paul Walker) dreams of finding sunken treasure, but when he and his loving girlfriend Sam (Jessica Alba) are visited for the weekend by their friend Bryce (Scott Caan) and Bryce’s latest pick-up Amanda (Ashley Scott), the four chance upon not one but two underwater hordes in close proximity: a 19th-century pirate ship full of gold, said to have been abandoned by its captain for the love of his sweetheart; and a crashed plane full of cocaine. As the group’s allegiances are tested and sharks from both sea and land begin to circle, Jared must decide what he values more – the devil or the deep blue sea.

Not that there is much depth to this adventure caper, where the characters seem as shallow as the waters through which they paddle. Jared’s central story arc involves a difficult choice between love and money – the same choice, in fact, that faced the legendary pirate captain whose ship Jared now so covets – but his moral dilemma is stripped of any dramatic potential by a cop-out ending.

It is a predictable Hollywood double-standard, also seen recently in National Treasure (2004), where money is first demonised as the root of all evil, but then somehow becomes the ultimate measure of, and reward for, the main characters’ triumph over such evil. In another director’s hands something interesting might have been made of such contradictory material, but John (Blue Crush) Stockwell shows no inclination to dive in deep, preferring instead to uncover an ethical problem, only to leave it dead in the water.

There is the swimming with Caribbean sharks of Open Water (2003), but without the same palpable tension, and there is the underwater exploration and piracy of The Life Aquatic (2004), but without the same melancholic probing into the human condition. In other words, Into The Blue is blown out of the water by similar, better films of recent times (while bearing a resemblance to 1977’s The Deep that is so close it may as well be a remake) and its plot is driven by a succession of coincidences that even a tiger shark would find difficult to swallow.

What it does have is truly spectacular undersea footage, a story that gives its easy-on-the-eye cast every opportunity to sport nothing more than swimwear and Walker, best known for his appearances in The Fast and the Furious franchise, showing that he (or at least his stunt stand-in) can handle a jet-ski as proficiently as a car.

strap: John Stockwell’s underwater adventure rarely lets its pretty cast stray far from surface level

Anton Bitel