Into The Blue is a thriller about hidden treasure, drugs and sexy divers set in the Bahamas. Unfortunately, a reasonably exciting premise is ruined by poor acting, a dull and predictable narrative and an over reliance on action-packed diving scenes to make up for the film’s obvious shortcomings.
Jared (Paul Walker) is a diver who longs to find a sunken treasure ship so he can get rich and not have to work as a poorly paid diving instructor. He and his girlfriend Sam (Jessica Alba) live on the beautiful island of New Providence. When Jared’s friends Bryce and Amanda come to visit, the four stumble upon what may be a legendary shipwreck whilst out, you guessed it, diving. What ensues is two hours of cameras ogling Alba’s gorgeous body, some mildly enjoyable action scenes involving evil drug dealers and sharks, and incredibly inane diatribes between the lead actors.
From the opening minutes, when a ripped Jared helps a pasty, overweight American tourist turn upright underwater, the film flaunts its love of the beautiful people. The only ugly people in this entire film are those who become maimed by sharks. Director John Stockwell, who in 2002 directed another film about surfing called Blue Crush (clearly coining imaginative film titles is not his forte), seeks to eek out his main characters’ personalities by showing them at play, at work and then at play again. So we have almost an hour of tediously boring scenes involving Jared leading his friends in pursuit of the mystery treasure ship, followed by a night of drinking and looking cool, before it all begins again in the morning. Often the friends dive free style (i.e. wearing no dive equipment), which means that their bodies are always on full show for the cameras. No actor has enough good dialogue or screen presence to make their characters anything more than talking poster pin-ups.
Scott Caan, as Jared’s friend Bryce, is essentially given the same minor role he had in Ocean’s Eleven and Twelve, except sadly for the viewer his role is not so minor this time. Caan is intended to be the comic relief, but how anybody could find this obnoxious pint-sized plonker funny is beyond me. His jokes are lame, including one scene involving him talking tough whilst looking into a mirror a la Taxi Driver, which is both grating to watch and completely unfunny. His buddy-buddy relationship with real-life pal Walker looks strangely contrived. Bryce, a loud-mouthed, annoying lawyer, contrasts with the cool, honest and basically decent Jared. The two interact by wrestling and hugging when happy, and wrestling without the hugging when sad. Bryce’s latest girlfriend Amanda (Ashley Scott) is even shallower than her man. The pair slowly work their way into the role of quasi-villains, seemingly inadvertently determined to ruin Jared’s hunt for treasure by conspiring to sell the cocaine the quartet have found deep underwater. Jared wisely resists engaging in any criminal enterprise, but his friends’ attempted drug dealing soon lands everyone in trouble.
The second half of the film is taken up with Jared attempting to fix the mess that Bryce and Amanda have created. Drug dealers chase and swim after him, they shoot and attempt to harpoon him, as the action scenes intensify. The corrupt local police and rival divers all hone in on Jared, who is predictably left with no one to turn too until he forgives Bryce for being a sap and they combine to kick ass. Some of the underwater action is faintly thrilling, but the only villains that bring any real menace to the screen are the sharks. Josh Brolin as Bates, the head criminal, is merely a contrived pantomine baddie. You no more fear him than you care if Jared and his 'bro’s’ win the day.
At the heart of Into The Blue’s weakness is its lack of identity. It knows it wants to be an ocean action movie, but is unsure of what style. Is it an MTV-style visual thrill ride? An Indiana Jones-type movie with pirates? A morality piece, with Jared resisting the lure of the cheap buck as personified by Bates and to a lesser degree Bryce? The film occasionally comes across as any of the above, but can’t find a permanent voice. In the end what you’re left with is a soulless, big budget load of beautiful rubbish.