The Austin Chronicle

Into the Blue

Rated PG-13, 110 min. Directed by John Stockwell. Starring Paul Walker, Jessica Alba, Scott Caan, Ashley Scott, Josh Brolin, Tyson Beckford.

REVIEWED By Marrit Ingman, Fri., Sept. 30, 2005

Stockwell (Blue Crush) sure loves pretty people in beautiful locales. Here we have Jared (Walker) and Sam (Alba), dive-bum lovers in the Bahamas. Their boat is leaky; they live in a trailer and fantasize about striking it rich from buried treasure. Enter hotshot buddy Bryce (Caan, who’s wrinkly and toothsome like father James), on vacation from New York City with a skanky gal (Scott) and the keys to a legal client’s borrowed mansion on the island. Lurking in the turquoise waters is, of course, a fortune in cocaine submerged by a plane crash – and quite possibly the aforementioned buried treasure Jared and Sam are seeking. But when Bryce gets the gang in too deep (this is, after all, an unofficial remake of 1977’s The Deep) with the nose candy’s rightful owners, will they all wind up floating? You don’t need me to tell you what the draw is here – the MTV-ready principals undulating in their skimpy swimwear through big-ticket aquatic photography – but Into the Blue is better than it has to be. Everyone in this movie is impossibly hot (when we need a gun-toting heavy to menace our heroes, we get supermodel Beckford), but Stockwell draws the net around them efficiently enough, and after a meandering first act, the movie gets down to business as a crisp little thriller. Its characterizations are as bland as sand: As the Good Girl with Integrity, Alba’s always going on and on with "I just want you to be happy. You know that?" even in voiceover when she’s not onscreen, and Caan’s relentless dude-speak is so grating that it’s a pleasure to see him imperiled at sea. Yet the movie works somehow for what it is – a matinee yarn about greedy friends who blunder into a fortune and get their hands dirty trying to grab it. There are, of course, more artful and ethically engaging variations on this theme (A Simple Plan and Shallow Grave leap to mind), but there are worse ones, too – and this one has sharks and pirate lore and Sea-Doo action sequences, so you can see what its priorities are. The movie’s timing is terrible in that the characters make frequent reference to "that big hurricane that just came through here" (evidently a substantial storm will cause sunken objects to drift enough to be found); it makes the filmmakers look like oafs when really they’re just grasping for plot points to kick-start their bikini movie. And don’t bring the kids. By crawling up Alba’s boy-shorts with an underwater camera, the producers are angling for that elusive adolescent male viewership, but the movie is too violent for its PG-13 rating.

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