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Film Review *1/2: ‘Into the Blue’ Sinks Like a Stone

Bigger Boat Can’t Salvage Nonsensical Plot

By Nikhil Nadkarni

Into the Blue

Starring Paul Walker, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Ashley Scott

Directed by John Stockwell

Written by Matt Johnson

Studio Columbia Pictures

Rated PG-13

Opens Today

You’ve probably seen the trailers for “Into the Blue,” Columbia Pictures’ newest release on TV. You’ve seen, then, a few shots of treasure hunters swimming around in the Caribbean, stumbling across some mystery. In that case, I think you’ve already seen enough of the film.

Hollywood frequently brings us thrillers that fail to weave action and story together into an entertaining film. It’s been a while, however, since I’ve seen a thriller with so little meaning in its story.

From the start, it’s evident that a lot of the movie will be either unexplained or unnecessary. We start with Gerald (Paul Walker of “Fast and the Furious” fame) and his girlfriend Sam (Jessica Alba from “Fantastic Four” and “Dark Angel”) living the carefree life of Bahamian treasure hunters. They haven’t found anything yet, so I wonder how they pay the bills; but never mind, the movie doesn’t seem to care.

With their visiting friends Bryce (Scott Caan) and Amanda (Ashley Scott), they swim in shallow Bahamian waters looking for treasure. On one of these lazy afternoons, Gerald, swimming down to retrieve his dropped watch, discovers an ancient French sailing vessel and, improbably enough, a drug runner’s sunken plane with 800 kilograms of cocaine still on board. Following an overly dramatic argument, the explorers choose to study the French ship and stay away from the cocaine. After exploring the ship for a day — with many unabashed body shots of the swimsuit-clad actors and actresses — the four go to the local nightclub, where they get into a fight with a guy who, incidentally, turns out to be the local drug king’s henchman.

I could say more about how the group becomes entangled with the drug runners and what they do about it, but I’ll stop — not because I’d ruin something for you, but rather because I might forget one of the many highly dramatized twists and turns that comprise the rest of this 110-minute movie. “Into the Blue” is scripted with as many twists as possible to build suspense and boggle the minds of the viewers, with each twist more dramatized than the last. This might help pique your interest for the first 30 minutes or so, but these surprise developments soon become cheesy and eventually foolish.

The characters are never really developed and, with the exception of Gerald, remain flat and stereotypical. Bryce, for example, is the slick New York lawyer who always has something slick to say; he displays no other emotion. Furthermore, the interactions between the characters are written inconsistently, so it appears that the four undergo huge mood swings every 10 minutes. Sam jests with Amanda at one moment, but minutes later, argues with her so coarsely that it would seem they had hated each other for years. As experienced actors, Alba and Walker do the best they can given such writing, but they don’t salvage the character development.

You might be thinking that you don’t see an action-thriller movie for the tear-jerking acting or warm characters. You see it for the intense action sequences and the pure thrill, right? Not this movie. The action is sparse and the scenes featuring combat are not amazing. One car chase has great potential but ends anticlimactically after about 20 seconds. The only worthwhile action sequence is the final one. Other than that, you have a few cool scenes — like the fight breaking out in the club — and that’s about all the movie offers in the way of thrill.

To be fair, the movie does feature amazing shots of the Caribbean seascape. Some of the underwater camera work really makes you feel like you’re floating, rolling, and turning around underwater. Additionally, the humor that accentuates the first third of the movie is hilarious and clever.

But in the end, these few qualities don’t redeem a movie that is crammed full of cheesy drama and lacks quality action scenes. I was amazed at how little thought was evidently been put into structuring this movie. If you’re headed to the theater this weekend, don’t bother with this film.