Dark Tide (2012) / Adventure-Thriller
MPAA rated: PG-13 for disturbing images, language and sexual references
Running time: 114 min.
Cast: Halle Berry, Olivier Martinez, Ralph Brown, Luke Tyler, Mark Elderkin, Thoko Ntshinga, Sizwe Msutu
Director: John Stockwell
Screenplay: Ronnie Christensen, Amy Sorlie
Halle Berry (Perfect Stranger, X-Men The Last Stand) continues her downward career spiral after winning an Oscar with Dark Tide, an insipid and quite dull account of underwater documentarians who want to play around with sharks off of the Cape Town, South Africa coast. Her character, Kate, happens to be an expert in the field of sharks, dubbed a "shark whisperer" by her ex-lover and companion in adventure, Jeff, played by Berry's real-life boyfriend Olivier Martinez (Taking Lives, SWAT). However, her desire to fiddle around with sharks is all but completely diminished when one of her compatriots is fatally attacked while they are on one of their expeditions, and she's spent years in guilt trying to run a business to take tourists out to see whales and penguins (no sharks!)
With her financial woes increasing, Jeff tries to help by securing a big money proposition from a wealthy, egotistical English entrepreneur (Brown, Pirate Radio) looking to impress his teenage son (Tyler, Chronicle) with the adventure of a lifetime -- a dive among the deadliest sharks in the world, without a cage! Kate reluctantly agrees, but finds the mix of her own fears, phobias, and inability to trust those around her to make it an adventure she's not sure she's ready for.
John Stockwell (Turistas, Into the Blue), who has become something of the go-to guy for films featuring lots of ocean action, directs without a lick of sense for pacing, thrills, or suspense, which is odd for a film billed as some sort of edge-of-your-seat thriller. It plays much of the time like a underdeveloped soap opera on the sea. Movies that revolve around sharks are nearly always awful (Jaws remains the one notable exception), but they're also usually dumb fun. The fact that Dark Tide is neither good nor so bad its good does not bode well in its ability to entertain anyone looking to laugh with or at a slick b-movie romp. There's little build-up for the climax that happens mostly underwater, which is so dark and confusing, you can't tell just what's happening, even if you cared.
Unless you're jonesing to see bikini shots of Halle Berry, there's not much more that Dark Tide might have to offer. The film takes itself much too seriously to allow even a smidgeon of fun, but the story yields no moments of genuine caring for what amounts to a bunch of shallow, unlikeable characters you won't mind seeing chomped alive, if only to stop their incessant bickering about things no one cares about. You'll spend the first 14 minutes wondering when the film will get going, and the following 100 wondering when it is going to end.
©2012 Vince Leo