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Into The Blue

Into the Blue is a lot like the teenage set it hopes to appeal to, wandering haplessly and aimlessly with little or no sense of direction or aspiration. At times it feels as though director John Stockwell wishes to do nothing more than film Jessica Alba frolic through coral reefs in an ultra tight swimsuit accentuating Ms. Alba’s ample posterior.

Don’t get me wrong; it is a fine posterior.

In fact, the opening act comprises mostly of shots such as these, with touches of Paul Walker thrown in for good measure. These characters have names, but it proves difficult to recall them while inundated with sequence after sequence of what feels like an IMAX peep show.

The film opens with the most disorienting plane crash sequence ever committed to film. We don’t know who is involved, what they are transporting, or where they are. We only know that they crash into the water, scream loudly, and presumably die in the process. A mystery is always engaging, however the amount of time a film takes to tie the mystery to our leads has a profound effect on its reception.

In this case, we are introduced to two lovers, Jared (Walker) and Sam (Alba) who both hold down day jobs while pursuing Jared’s dream of becoming a treasure hunter. The seed is planted to move us closer towards a discovery regarding the downed plane, yet the film continues with dalliances into the unnecessary.

We meet Jared and Sam individually, as Jared is accompanying a group of tourists on a dive while Sam is working in a Sea World style resort. Immediately, Sam is presented as the more logical and level headed of the two, while Jared comes of as the more reckless and impetuous one who settles a disagreement with his boss by shoving him into the ocean.

Jared loses his job after the shoving incident, and he dives further into his lifelong ambition of hunting for treasure. We meet Jared’s ex-boss, Blake (Josh Brolin), who has subsequently succeeded where Jared continues to fail. Blake has a large crew, a boat, and a successful track record of hauling up treasure from the ocean floor. Needless to say, Jared has a few obstacles in his way, namely the fact that he is poor, lives in a trailer, has no job and has a boat that could pose as a wading pool.

The only thing going for Jared is Sam. Although Alba plays Sam with conviction, we can’t help but wonder why she stays with him to begin with, and this only increases as the film progresses. Jared refuses when Blake offers to not only help him repair his boat, but to also put him back to work if he needs a steady paycheck. Why? Because he’s too good for that.

Instead, Jared waxes poetic about finding treasure, all the while overlooking Sam in the process. Hmmm, are we planting a moral theme here?

Enter Bryce (Scott Caan) and Amanda (Ashley Scott). Bryce is a longtime friend of Jared’s who, from what we gather, is a successful criminal defense lawyer. Amanda is a woman Bryce claims to have met the day before, yet is accompanying him to the Bahamas to bask in the sun and party. If only life were that easy.

The ads for Into the Blue have been promising an “edge of your seat” experience. The only thing “edge of your seat” about this film is the anticipation of the credit crawl. Sure, there are some interesting turns on the action adventure genre presented, however they are developed at such a haphazard crawl that we can hardly help but lose focus. There is a vast difference between a character study and a film that just plain meanders.

Into the Blue takes two and a half acts to develop what should have been accomplished in the first fifteen minutes of the first act. Sure, the film is intending to let us soak in Sam and Jared, learn what makes them tick, how they work as a couple, and how they differ at times. It also intends to establish a line of ethics, showing which characters have qualms with crossing said line, which ones refuse to, and which ones can’t seem to make up their minds.

This is all fine and good, but the opening plane crash sequence is completely distracting and irrelevant to a film contemplating inner complexities and nuances such as these. If depth is what the goal was, then the audience should learn about the crash alongside the characters with no preconceived knowledge whatsoever.

Jared, Sam, Bryce, and Amanda proceed to abuse Bryce’s earnings, a beautiful resort complete with a speedboat and a couple of jet skis. They spend their days jetting around in the water, until a routine dive uncovers two very different treasures and the group must make some moral decisions. The two treasures, the first is some lost remains point to a sunken ship of pirate legend named the “Zephyr,” and the second is the downed plane from the film’s opening. The plane, as it turns out, was transporting large quantities of cocaine, all of which remains intact and buried in the hull. The group must decide whether or not to address the cocaine issue, because how they handle things could have a dire effect on their one legitimate find, the evidence of the “Zephyr.”

The group decides to hold off alerting the authorities about the cocaine until they’ve uncovered something firmly proving that the remains belong to the “Zephyr” and thus staking a legitimate claim to the remains. However, the problem of supplies still remains, and we learn that someone on the island is interested in Jared’s recent dives and their locations.

Bryce and Amanda eventually try to convince Jared to dip into the drugs, selling a little to raise enough funds to unearth the sunken pirate ship, however the couple remains firmly against the idea. This prompts Sam to question Jared, “Would you give up treasure for love?” He turns this into a joke, which takes a negative connotation moments later. As it turns out, Bryce is far craftier than he appears, and he is determined to see Jared succeed so he recovers some of the drugs and sets up a meeting with a local club owner, Primo (Tyson Beckford). It turns out to be a huge mistake, and turns the whole film into a “drug deal gone bad” type scenario.

Dilemmas, dilemmas.

Now everyone’s lives are endangered, and Jared and company must retrieve the cocaine for its “rightful” owner before he turns them all into chum. Sam, however, stands ethically firm, pointing out that days prior Jared refused a legitimate job working for Blake, but now finds himself working for drug dealers. She painfully emotes, “I believe in you more than any prospect of any treasure,” and we can’t help but question, again, why she still stays with him.

What the film finally boils down to is a race to upstaging the bad guy, a role which is continually shifted from character to character, not only causing late act confusion but also exposing just plain sloppy screenwriting.

By the time the film decides to go in one direction, we no longer care, and it is somewhat ironic that we grow to despise most of these characters throughout the film, almost to the point of hoping that they will get caught or harmed just to expedite the conclusion of the film. Someone does fall prey to a natural predator, which proves intriguing if not trying nonetheless.

Consistent misdirection coupled with truly inane and downright painful dialogue, Into the Blue does nothing more than sink, and not even Ms. Alba in a swimsuit could rescue this one from drowning.


Mario Anima

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