Into the Blue

star

A movie review by James Berardinelli



Into the Blue

THRILLER:

United States, 2005

U.S. Release Date:

2005-09-30

Running Length:

1:50

MPAA Classification:

PG-13 (Violence, Profanity, Sexual Situations, Drugs)

Theatrical Aspect Ratio:

2.35:1

Cast:

Paul Walker, Jessica Alba, Scott Caan, Ashley Scott, Josh Brolin, James Frain

Director:

John Stockwell

Screenplay:

Matt Johnson

Cinematography:

Shane Hurlbut, Peter Zuccarini

Music:

Paul Haslinger

U.S. Distributor:

Columbia Pictures

Subtitles:

none


On some level, I feel that I should have been able to enjoy Into the Blue. It has all the elements one would expect from a "so bad it's good" feature: cheesy dialogue, a script that could have been written by two chimpanzees, acting that would make a high school drama teacher cringe, and lots of tight female bodies poured into tiny bikinis. Despite all of that, however, I found Into the Blue to be a real trial, although it appears to have a weird ability to suspend time. Every time I checked my watch, the hands seemed to be in the same place. Director John Stockwell, who has a fetish for movies with "blue" in the title (he also was in charge of Blue Crush), may not have found a formula for entertainment, but he has discovered a means to slow time. That would be a good thing if Into the Blue was less tedious.

Jessica Alba may be one of the hottest young things working in Hollywood, but she can't act. This year, she has appeared in a trio of movies (the previous two were Sin City and The Fantastic Four), and has failed to show any noteworthy thespian skills. Still, when it comes to screen presence and eye candy, it's hard to beat Alba. Few actresses look better in a skimpy suit, and Stockwell is smart enough to highlight this early and often. Unfortunately, to get the benefits of 90-odd minutes of Alba in a bikini, it means enduring the same amount of time in the presence of Paul Walker and Scott Caan. Then there are the stretches of film when neither Alba nor Ashley Scott is on screen. That's when Into the Blue sinks to uncharted and unwelcome depths.

The story takes us to the Bahamas where a quartet of divers makes a remarkable find: the possible wreckage of the Civil War-era ship Zephyr. If legitimate, this could make Jared (Walker); his girlfriend, Sam (Alba); his brother, Bryce (Caan); and Bryce's new squeeze, Amanda (Scott), stinking rich. But there are complications. The water is infested with sharks and there's a downed drug plane nearby. As Jared tries to figure out how to legitimatize his Zephyr claim, Amanda does a little topless sunbathing, Sam pouts about ethics, and Bryce tries to sweeten the pot by selling the drugs in the plane. Unfortunately, they criminal mastermind (James Frain) he contacts is the guy who owned the cocaine in the first place.

Alba is bad, but her co-stars are worse. Stockwell can't get a decent performance out of any of them. Even the sharks seem to be hamming it up. Into the Blue might be more enjoyable as a silent film. Not only would that spare us countless passages of purple prose, but it would distill the movie to its essence: bikini-clad actresses and some impressive underwater photography. Honestly, some of those shots of multi-hued tropical fish are impressive. Somehow, though, I don't believe that the producers of Into the Blue intended admiration of Butterflyfish to be a major marketing point.

It's probably worth wondering how Into the Blue ended up being released at the end of September, when screen fare is supposed to be improving, rather than during the dregs of August, when the average picture deserves a place in Davey Jones' Locker. Maybe I underestimate the appeal of Alba or (god forbid!) Walker. Or perhaps someone at Sony was enthused about this lame tale of intrigue, drugs, and scuba diving. That latter seems unlikely until one considers that this studio was responsible for both Bewitched and Man of the House. As a tourism advertisement for the Bahamas, Into the Blue doesn't fare much better. Sure, the islands have pretty fish and prettier girls, but they also have pesky things like man-eating sharks and ill-tempered drug lords. Better to watch the Bahamas from afar - only not in this particular movie.





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