Into The Blue

INTO THE BLUE—-Jessica Alba, in the Bahamas, in a bikini. This is what is known as a “deciding factor.”

Experienced but out of work diver ‘Jared’ (Walker) has a good deal going with his loving girlfriend ‘Sam’ (Alba), who provides income with her job at a theme park. His dream is a good boat and finding something in the shallow Bahamian waters rather than colorful fish. It seems their ship (sunken variety) has come in when they find evidence of a legendary wreck. Complicating things are the presence of Jared’s reckless buddy ‘Bryce’ (Scott Caan) and his tag-along f-buddy ‘Amanda’ (Ashley Scott), a plane loaded with cocaine sunk near the ship, and the aroused curiosity of intimidating local big shot ‘Bates’ (Josh Brolin).  Would someone hurt you over a measly half-billion bucks?

Directed by John Stockwell, written by Matt Johnson, this slick, very attractive 2005 adventure was dinged by critics and was a bomb at the box office, 123rd place for the year, a worldwide gross of $46,118,000 sunk to the ocean floor against a production cost of $50,000,000. The shellacking from reviewers, while a bit unfair, was no surprise: this hip-hop generation scramble-for-gold actioner isn’t exactly The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre. The failure with audiences is more of a puzzle: even if it cost more than something like this should, it has enough ingredients delivered time-on-target to bring in a bigger haul. It’s got a simple but decent plot, on the order of The Deep, moves along smoothly, with a few surprises, has some neat fight business with rewardingly just (as in cool) dispatching of bad guys, and lotsa sharks. It has Walker for the girls, Alba and the game, equally unclothed Scott for the guys, Caan to, well, make you feel better about yourself, and Brolin to hold down the actual quality acting part. Plus it can’t be all bad if it includes the well-earned line “Shut up, you coke whore.”

‘Characterization’ isn’t a priority of the script, but that’s no big deal in this kind of sex-plus-speargun excursion, basically an unpretentious thriller. Lovely oceanic backdrops, some good-looking people who can handle the physicality demanded by the plot, and serve up a mind-relaxing, eye-enhancing way to while away an hour and a half. Why carp? Walker is fit and likable, in a “dude” kind’a way. La Alba does not have to out-Meryl any Streep who may swim by; besides undulating through the bubbles like a mermaid from Victoria’s Secret, she shows vital chops with the action element. Ms. Scott puts over the right degree of slinky vapidity, and Brolin knows how to project viable menace. Caan’s character is supposed to be jerkweed; let’s just say he’s cast to a tee.

Top-quality cinematography from Shane Hurlbut, with the extensive 2nd unit underwater scenes guided by Peter Zuccarini, the modern era’s go-to man for that type of mission. Those ever-present sharks are the real deal, the actors took their chances along with their paychecks. With Tyson Beckford and James Frain. 110 minutes. *

 * How do you make things look their best underwater? Peter Zuccarini: the various Pirates Of The Caribbean flicks, Let Me In, Life Of Pi, All Is Lost, The Hunger Games, Jurassic World, In The Heart Of The Sea, Deepwater Horizon…..

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