Director John Stockwell has attempted to take us under with yet another one of his water-based action thrillers. Dark Tide was a huge letdown being not only water-based but watered-down, and, despite the high-profile presence of Halle Berry, was practically a straight to DVD title. Take it as a lesson learned from Stockwell’s first two horrifically bad ocean side films, Blue Crush and Into the Blue. At least the first two had fairly interesting cinematography and a concept that was clear, even if the ocean water wasn’t.

Dark Tide simply didn’t offer anything to anyone. There’s nothing for the Halle Berry fans – her character, Kate, provides no lingering shots of her bikini ensemble to mask the second-rate acting and terrible attempts at an African accent to go unnoticed. There’s nothing for the Olivier Martinez fans (we’ll be magnanimous and suggest that he has some) in which his character, Jeff, comes and goes in most scenes. There is nothing for the Sea-faring, action-adventurist, because most of the time you are wondering where the adventure is? In comparison, Grandma’s nursing home water aerobics hour offers more of a thrill. Quite honestly, the stars of the picture are the sharks. If it wasn’t for the brief scene in which one shoots straight out of the water to catch a “suicidal seal” in mid air, the “oos” and “ahs” (let’s be real here) are non-existent.

Berry’s liquid tones ooze uncomfortably in the opening scene and her character, who is virtually a shark whisperer, explains how she was once told by her father to be careful of this creature she cares about most in the world because it has the potential to destroy her. If moviegoers care most about impeccably produced, palpably suspenseful shark movies then yes, this movie will definitely destroy them. With the picture essentially based on a story written by Amy Sorlie, the ubiquitous fact remains that sometimes books are better left as they are (did we learn nothing from Soul Surfer?).

The characters and their lives in Dark Tide are like foster children: so un-nurtured, underdeveloped, and unvisited. So much so in fact, that when Stockewell decides to extinguish one, you feel more inclined to concern yourself with the wellbeing of the shark’s digestive system rather than the obvious victim. Even more likely, you may even question who’s the true victim in all this for clearly you viewed the movie out of pure desperate curiosity.

Producers in actual fact played hide-and-go-seek with the narrative. The moment you begin to understand who these people are and why they’re placed within the storyline, there is then a cutaway to random shots of the African coast or wide shots of Kate’s pitiful toy of a boat. There is no emotional investment here and we are only then left to drown in the vastness of mediocrity. Halle needs to get out of the post-Oscar career wilderness and get back on the (Monster’s) ball. Better yet, Stockton needs to get any semblance of his career back from Tom Cruise by hurrying up with this reported Top Gun sequel.

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