Lionsgate // 2007 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Denise Louis (Retired) // March 16th, 2007
Fatigue. Hypothermia. Death.
I've never thought much of critical acclaim. It's always amazed me that so many films I can't stand were absolutely showered with praise (I still think Crash is a crap movie if I've ever seen one). So it shouldn't surprise you that I didn't really like Open Water. That's not to say it didn't have its strong points. The acting wasn't terrible, the premise was relatively original, and the director managed to make the tail end (pun intended) of the movie pretty damn chilling and suspenseful. It's just that when you're taping people stuck in the ocean there's only so many ways to make it scary, and not all of them worked for me. That said, I was still expecting a decent film when I popped Open Water 2 in my DVD player. Ironically the film is exactly what I thought Open Water would be -- inane, overdramatic, and boring.
Four friends, Amy (Susan May Pratt, Searching for Paradise), Zach (Niklaus Lange, The Best Ever), Lauren (Ali Hillis, The Month of August), and Dan (Eric Dane, Grey's Anatomy), decide to have a small reunion on Dan's yacht in celebration of Zach's birthday. Dan brings along a very insecure date named Michelle (Cameron Richardson, The Good Humor Man), while Amy brings along her husband James (Richard Speight Jr., Band of Brothers), and their infant daughter Sarah (obvious plot device).
As Zack, James, Lauren, and Michelle enjoy the ocean, Dan and Amy discuss the latter's phobia of water. Attempting to help her with some aversion therapy, Dan picks her up and jumps into the water. But there's a problem; he forgot to put down the ladder on the side of the boat. And the only person left on board is baby Sarah. Now all six of them are stuck in the water until help arrives, or until they can figure out a way back onto the boat.
It would be difficult to convey my exact feelings about this movie without giving away the ending, but I'm going to try. Let me start with a note to the filmmakers: it's hard to garner sympathy when your victims are such idiots. I'm more than willing to suspend my disbelief, but don't ask me to hang it by a noose in Times Square. Six people unable to figure out how to get back on the boat is just plain absurd. I just couldn't enjoy the movie as any sense of urgency was lost on me.
With that major flaw standing, the film needed interesting people to keep you engrossed -- unfortunately it fails there too. Even the more likeable characters are far too often reduced to archetypes. Amy must find the courage to conquer her fear. Dan must find his morality in order to survive. And I must get a bag because I'm about to hurl.
What is truly ironic is that the film seems to realize how ridiculous it is. Therefore it tries to overcompensate with ridiculous contrivances and persistent cliches. There's the near constant reminder of Amy's phobia (care...), having people die in increasingly more nonsensical ways (please care...), and of course, the baby plot device crying every time it gets too quiet (I said care, dammit!). At one point Dan even has a Phone Booth-esque revelation that is supposed to endear him to you. Except this isn't Phone Booth, and he's blandly two dimensional, and his blubbering only lengthens the unpleasantness.
It doesn't stop at the screen though. Even the cover tries to deceive you into giving a damn. "Based on true events" is as accurate as calling this movie Open Water 2. The script was written before Open Water was in theaters, but production was delayed until after. Once Open Water became a success, someone decided to capitalize and the name was changed. The full name, Open Water 2: Adrift reveals not only the name of the original German script, but also the origin of the story. This "true event" is actually based on the short story "Adrift" by Koji Suzuki, from the novel Dark Water (the same one that produced Dark Water, which I also couldn't stand). It's all a poor attempt to muster some compassion. If it actually happened then you would have to feel bad for these people. But it's not true, and I wouldn't recommend this movie in a million years.
Cameron Richardson, Ali Hillis, and Niklaus Lange all do a fair job with their material. Everyone else wasn't great but could've done a lot worse.
Also, an early idea to make a rope from their trunks means there's lots of man-ass for the ladies.
The screenwriters, actors, and director all felt this was a great idea for a movie. The "Making of" extra shows them beaming with confidence over this film's premise. They figured it would be something wildly different than what audiences were used to seeing. I don't know. Maybe if the first one hadn't come out I would've considered this an innovative, suspenseful, thrilling...eh...maybe not.
Review content copyright © 2007 Denise Louis; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* The Making of Open Water 2