Great White is an action thriller shark film directed by Martin Wilson (I Promise, Wait ‘Till Your Father Gets Home, Roll) and written by Michael Boughen. It’s about a last minute tourist trip that turns into a nightmare when five seaplane passengers are stranded miles from shore. In a desperate bid for survival, the group try to make it to land before a menacing terror lurking just beneath the surface hunts them all down.
Sounds terrifying and a situation I hope to never be in. Despite the craptastic scenario and a terror to lead up to, I don’t have high expectations. Shark thrillers come across as too mechanical or animated and produce wildly unlikely aspects that are unrealistic. I get more fear and excitement from shark documentaries. Let’s see how this goes, and dive in!
Great White opens with beautiful scenic views of beaches, water, and sea life. Right away, the film introduces a couple on vacation who are very much enjoying themselves. It doesn’t take long for a shark to appear and do it’s dirty deed. A clear tone set to know where the rest of the film is headed. Charlie (Aaron Jakubenko, Tidelands) and Kaz (Katrina Bowden, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil) own and operate a charter plane service that travels to a destination island off the coast of Australia. A cute couple who carry their own burdens that test the strength of their relationship. They book a last minute trip with the thought that sharks won’t be an issue.
Michelle (Kimie Tsukakoshi, The Bureau of Magical Things that’s found (love her role too) on Netflix) and Joji (Tim Kano, Neighbours) are married and come from big money. As it turns out, Michelle has a familial connection to the legend of that island. Many years before, a few shipwrecked men were standranded there and fought to survive for 15 days. There was only one person left, Michelle’s 18 year old grandfather. Michelle and Joji are looking to connect with roots and pay respects to a recent tragedy in their family. Benny (Te Kohe Tuhaka, Love & Monsters, The Dead Lands) is the laid back and loyal right hand man to Kaz and Charlie. Together they board the Pearl Charter and head for “Hell’s Island”.
Within minutes of landing and discovering Michelle’s connection, a shark bitten body is found. They find a dead guy’s phone with pictures taken of him and his girlfriend not far from the island shore. It’s the couple from the beginning of the film. Fearful that the woman could be in trouble, the gang decide to go look for her. They use the charter plane to find the capsized boat and it’s not long before the shark finds them too.
The gang does what they can to try and get away but the shark is hell bent at keeping them in the water. The shark takes a big bite into the plane leaving the passengers scrambling to inflate a raft and collect whatever supplies they can grab. The bite scene is so graphically heavy that it’s comical. It has the feel of a one shot, one assignment project that was turned in at the last minute. It comes across super fake and looks very much out of place.
The dialogue for Great White is simple and predictable but the overall acting is good. Benny is quiet but visibly has a good heart. Michelle is grieving and looking for guidance and hope. Jo just wants to make his wife happy but cant control his temper. Charlie and Kaz have their issues but their love felt real. Stranded in a raft and falling prey to a great white shark is problematic enough when trying to survive. Emotions flare as supplies dwindle as the shark attacks pick up intensity. Logic and reactions were appropriately established in scenes throughout the film. Respectively doing its best to stay away from unrealistic scenarios. There are a few thrilling moments but nothing outstanding to note. However, there is definitely a good sense of wondering who the shark would be coming for next.
Everyone becomes physically and emotionally broken while trying to paddle to a shore. The shark is seen looming from an above and below sea level perspective when it’s fin isn’t slicing the water. The shark ups his attacks as the inch closer to a shore. Once they do, those that remain know they must distract and hold it back with the materials they have left. Given the whole ordeal, I was left wondering if these characters may derive from mer-people of some kind. The ability to hold their breaths underwater for as long as they do is insane. They all must have super human lungs or I just need to go swimming more. Preferably not in shark infested waters.
Great White is a basic narrative that adds bits of creepy shark imagery. The film intertwines elements from other shark thrillers, like Jaws with a Final Destination feel of foreshadowed death. The scenic shots and the acting/chemistry between the cast are memorable. For those that love a good shark thriller, this film is right up your alley. It just didn’t do it for me.
Great White is available in theaters and digitally now.