Characters in movies can do a good job at representing reality (“Bubble,” “Syriana,” and but not limited to “Ballast”) and some movies can have inhuman quip machines (“Inglorious Bastards,” “Glenn Gary Glenn Ross,” and but not limited to “In Bruge”). Then there are movies like “Dark Tide” where I have no idea if these people are even suppose to represent earthlings. Their emotions fluctuate so wildly and their reactions to events seem so alien, that I couldn’t relate to any of these characters down to a basic human level.
“Dark Tide” is the shark diving thriller staring Halle Barry and directed by John Stockwell. Halle Barry’s character, Kate Mathieson, used to be a world renowned shark diver, but gave it up after one of her partners was victim to a shark attack. She currently runs a humble boating tour, but is suffering from financial woes. When her ex-husband reappears, he offers her some economic recovery. An overly abrasive millionaire, Brady (Ralph Brown), wants to dive with great white sharks outside of a cage. Kate is reluctant at first, but she ends up accepting the offer as long as Brady stays in a cage until Kate gives him the okay to come out.
Joining Kate and Brady on the excursion is Brady’s meek son Nate (Like Tyler), Kate’s ex-husband and videographer Jeff (Olivier Martinez), and second mate as well as the comic relief Tommy (Mark Elderkin). During this time there is some gorgeous photography of diving, seals, the ocean, sharks, and Halle Barry, but at the same time there is awkward dialog, an ipad, poor decisions, bad jokes, stupidity, uninspired character development, useless scenes, arguments, unrelated back stories, choppy editing, and questionable motivations. Kate eventually becomes so frustrated that she steers the boat towards a heavily shark infested area with an oncoming storm and setting sun.
I really hated this movie. I’m not sure what story “Dark Tide” was trying to tell or what the point of it was. The characters were so sloppily written and motivations were seemingly random. At one point, Brady decides to get out of the cage and attempt to touch a shark. Kate is rightfully furious and decides to turn the boat around. At this point, everyone seems okay with that. Brady was happy with his experience and he already paid Kate upfront. Then she gets so angry she steers the boat away and forces an unwilling Brady to dive with twenty foot great whites. All hell breaks loose and lives are lost. Why did she do that? She seemed pretty concerned with safety the entire movie, and she didn’t seem unstable enough to make such a poor decision. This entire movie is a culmination of poor decisions.
I mentioned how beautiful the photography was before, but then the sun goes down. The last twenty minutes takes place at night and I couldn’t make out a single action. All I could really see was splashing. It wasn’t until someone said so-and-so was dead did I even know someone died. And I can’t say this for sure, but I’m pretty certain they recycled footage from BBC’s “Planet Earth.”
John Stockwell has talent with ocean photography. “Dark Tide,” “Blue Crush”, and “Into the Blue” are examples of that. They’re all gorgeous movies that show how deep and complex the ocean is, but his characters in his movies are as deep and complex as puddles in parking lots.
PROBLEMS WITH THE ENDING OF THE MOVIE SPOILER ALERT:
The survivors are eventually rescued and the film ends on a voiceover with footage of Kate free diving. She tells this story about a shark that swam a thousand miles away, but eventually came back home. Kate’s going back to shark diving? She killed a bunch of people because of her reckless decisions…twice! What an asshole. She was so guilt stricken the first time around, she retired. Why would she get reinvigorated to shark dive when she killed more people? It’s entirely her fault for those deaths. She should be on the brink of suicide from the guilt.
I have nothing but sympathy for shark victims, but you’re a jerk if you feel the need to smack, grab, or prod great white sharks. If you need that adrenaline rush, join a fight club, don’t bother predators minding their own business. You wouldn’t do that with bears.
I liked the score. Good job Mark Sayfritz.