Judge David Johnson always wanted to be a pretty-boy treasure hunter.
Lots of booty in this movie.
Hollywood pretty boy Paul Walker (Timeline) and red-hot Jessica Alba (Sin City) star in this treasure-hunting thriller. Really, I suspect it's an opportunity to showcase Alba swimming in a bikini for extended periods of time and placing the camera in awkward positions behind her.
Facts of the Case
Jared (Walker) and Sam (Alba) live a pretty good life. They cohabitate on a houseboat, reside in the Bahamas, work outside in the water, go swimming a lot and look at pretty fish, and are very good-looking. Unfortunately, dating someone who looks like Jessica Alba and taking pictures of sea cucumbers isn't enough for Jared. He seeks treasure, and often takes to the sea floor desperately searching for his submerged golden ticket.
Worse, rival beachcomber Bates (Josh Brolin The Goonies) recently hit it big, finding his own treasure, and now tools around the ocean in his pimped-out cruiser, blowing holes in the sand, and looking for his next big haul.
But Jared may yet get his chance. While diving with his best friend Bryce (Scott Caan, Ocean's 12) and his annoying new girlfriend Amanda (Ashley Scott), he happens upon a downed plane, loaded with bricks of cocaine. Millions of dollars of narcotic happiness is within their grasp, but Jared and Sam, despite the pleas of Bryce and Amanda, refuse to go down that path.
As the friends continue to frolic in the water, Jared is stunned to discover some artifacts, recently unearthed thanks to a hurricane loosening up the sand. An examination of the bounty reveals that the Zephyr, a long-lost, mythical treasure ship, is right under their feet, and the score is worth tens of millions of dollars.
Now Jared is faced with a dilemma: let the find sit until he can scrounge together enough resources to properly retrieve the loot, but risk Bates beating him to it, or ignore his moral compass, sell some coke, and start excavating.
The latter choice proves too compelling, but will ultimately plunge Jared and everyone he cares about into a dangerous entanglement of pissed-off drug-runners, double-crosses, harpoon guns, and shark attacks.
Into the Blue has some high aspirations, throwing a lot of action genre elements into a big lobster pot and letting it simmer, but a few elements prevent it from being the sleeper thriller it could have been.
Now I may be in the minority, but count me as a semi-fan of Paul Walker. I know he's not the most skilled thespian and often delivers his lines with the zest of a wheelbarrow, but I get a kick out of his "dude schtick." Sure Keanu Reeves helped blaze the trail for that kind of emotionless, laid-back line reading, but hey, I like him too. Either way, Walker is in total beach bum mode, spending most of the film lounging in his board shorts and flip flops and talking smack to Scott Caan.
This frat-boy dynamic is a double-edged sword for the film. While I sort of enjoyed the banter and the goofy back-and-forth Bryce and Jared dished out, at the same time it was off-putting: like I was watching the coolest kids in high school have a great time, and I was the nerd in the back of the lunchroom. Basically, these guys weren't relatable, and as a result I never felt drawn into their misadventures, reducing me, the audience member, to more of an observer of on-screen events.
Thankfully, much of these events I was observing proved to be fairly entertaining, if not entirely implausible (a huge plane crashes in the shallow part of the Bahamian ocean and no one has any clue?!). And though it took too long to get into the nitty-gritty of the film, with much time spent on the dudes and their girlfriends just lounging around, once the drugs and guns and sharks hit, there's some fun to be had.
The biggest setback for the flick, though, is the characters. Frankly, our players in this coke-fueled drama just aren't that likable. I've already mentioned Bryce and Jared's routine, but the girls don't fare much better. Ashley Scott's Amanda is a spunky little vixen, but she is profoundly irritating and goes out like a punk. Worse off is Jessica Alba's character Sam. She's the flawless, good girl (as one-dimensional as Amanda, her polar opposite) who suddenly turns into a shark-wrestling action heroine. Hey I love me some Jessica Alba shark-grappling and all, but this bad-assness came out of nowhere. For the rest of the crew: Josh Brolin does an uncanny Nick Nolte impression and model-turned-thespian Tyson Beckford isn't the most charismatic but he's got a great physical presence.
Lastly, is the action. The mayhem dial gets turned up a few degrees toward the end of the film, and while I dug a few moments (underwater spear-gun fighting = good times!), I found the denouement too hackneyed. There's never a clear plan in place by the good guys, and it seems they prevail—oops, did I just spoil it for you?—by sheer chance. It's as if the writers had methodically built up to this point, laying the groundwork for a kick-ass finale, then just lost focus.
The flick does look great and the underwater scenes are gorgeous. And apparently some of the sharks were CGI, but the technology was so good I couldn't tell. Bottom line: if you're looking for a movie full of beautiful people swimming in limited apparel in vibrant, blue waters you can't go wrong with the visual accomplishments of Into the Blue. The thriller aspects, while overwrought and at times nonsensical, are still entertaining, and lift this film to the "above-mediocre" level.
Picture quality is solid on this disc, soaked with the bright colors of the tropics, perhaps too bright sometimes, but pleasant nonetheless. A nice 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is effective in the frantic climax. Unfortunately, I was only able to review the full screen version.
Some decent, though uninspiring extras accompany: audio commentary with director John Stockwell, screen tests, 10 deleted scenes, and a making-of featurette. The documentary is little more than a promotional piece, but there is still some interesting tidbits embedded in the masturbatory preening.
I was really expecting to dislike Into the Blue but I was surprised to find myself marginally entertained. It's not great by any means, and probably not even that good, but the thrills are there and it looks pretty sweet.
Not guilty, I guess.
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Scales of Justice
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