Dark Tide (R15)

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Review byMatthew Turner29/10/2012

One out of Five stars
Running time: 94 mins

Disappointing shark-based thriller that lacks any real sense of fun and takes itself far too seriously instead of embracing its own schlocky set-up.

What's it all about?
Directed by John Stockwell, Dark Tide is set in Cape Town and stars Halle Berry as Kate Mathieson, a ‘shark whisperer’ renowned for her ability to swim with sharks, who makes documentaries with her French boyfriend Jeff (Olivier Martinez). However, when her diving partner (Sizwe Msufu) is eaten during a dangerous dive that she insisted on, Kate is traumatised and swears off sharks for good, splitting with Jeff and retiring to a tourist boat business that specialises in whale-watching.

A year later, Kate is nearing bankruptcy, so when Jeff reappears and tells her that he's lined up a rich businessman (Ralph Brown as Brady) who could save her boat business, she is forced to pay attention. The catch: Brady insists on swimming with sharks and wants Kate to show him how it's done, outside of the protective metal cage.

The Good
Dark Tide only has a small handful of things going for it: first, it has a couple of spectacular shark-based money shots, most notably a shark leaping out of the water and snatching up its prey. Second, Halle Berry proves she can still fill out a bikini with the best of them and her performance is probably better than the film deserves. And third, the shark attack climax is reasonably entertaining, even if, by that point, you will definitely be rooting for the sharks.

The Bad
Unfortunately, the film's problems far outweigh its good points. For one thing, the script refuses to embrace its schlocky trappings, bracketing the film with an excruciating, cod-serious voiceover by Kate that talks about respecting and admiring sharks; the fact that this comes just after a load of them have tried to eat her only makes it that much more laughable. On top of that, Brown's performance never really convinces (his dialogue is atrocious and not in a good way) and the film is poorly paced, with only the final attack sequence really sparking to life.

Quite apart from anything else, the film has several moments that would have been a lot more fun if the film wasn't trying to be so po-faced, such as the fact that Halle Berry shows sharks who's boss by punching them on the nose (it's tempting to see the final attack as the sharks deciding they've had quite enough of being punched on the nose, thank you very much). Also, the sharks are suspiciously choosy about who they eat and who they don't, leaving the impression that you can survive a shark attack by being really, really good-looking.

Worth seeing?
Dark Tide isn't nearly as much fun as it should have been, thanks to dodgy dialogue, a script that takes itself too seriously and a relative lack of shark-based thrills.

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Content updated: 25/01/2020 17:21

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