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Dark Tide
Genre Thriller
 
Review:

Dark Tide is a shark thriller starring Halle Berry and directed by Blue Crush and Into The Blue director, John Stockwell. The film is set in Simon's Town, South Africa, which lends it some Proudly South African flavour with its setting, film crew and local acting talent. Although, that doesn't change the fact that it's a shark thriller starring Halle Berry.

Halle Berry can act. Monster's Ball, Things We Lost in the Fire, Frankie & Alice, Gothika and even Die Another Day testify to her range. She is a leading lady, although winning an Oscar could have been the best and worst thing that could have happened to her career, giving her a pedestal under a microscope and making every subsequent performance comparable.

Playing diving instructor, Kate Mathieson, is not a comfortable fit for Halle Berry, who seems hesitant and distant. It's an uninspired performance that checks the box without much charisma or conviction. It's as if she resigned from the challenge, unsure whether she was there to act in a wetsuit or look good in a bikini. Perhaps sharper writing or more focused direction could have answered this question for her.

Berry's supported by Olivier Martinez, who is best known for Unfaithful and Taking Lives. The French actor clocks in a snake-eyed performance as Jeff, a pretty inconsequential character. Ralph Brown adds a maniacal edge to Brady, who is anything but a Brady. While up-and-coming South African actors, Luke Tyler and Mark Elderkin, keep the film from capsizing with some much-needed charm. Without an anchoring lead performance from Halle Berry, Dark Tide leans heavily on its uncredited co-stars, Cape Town and Great Whites.

Cape Town is a beautiful destination, one that convinced the filmmakers to change course from a remote island off the Americas to basing the film in Simon's Town. Cape Point and Seal Island are just two of the highlights for this deep sea thriller, essentially giving viewers the added dimension of a travel and shark tour experience.

Great White and shark cage diving tours are popular in this region and it seems that we just can't get enough of these mysterious predators of the sea. There have been an abundance of shark movies and instead of demonizing sharks, Dark Tide offers a modern cautionary tale. The underwater photography is captivating and even poetic, as if inspired by The Big Blue, giving viewers a documentary up close and personal without leaning too heavily on CGI.

Dark Tide's main flaw is that there's no real story beyond a group of strangers going on a private shark diving tour. Several motivations are revealed at one point or another, but don't really have any bearing on the events as they unfold. This results in a straight-up man versus nature thriller, one in which nature simply takes its toll, with humans knowingly putting themselves in the path of danger. Further, there's no real connection with any of these characters, who are generally unlikable... making the interaction as personal as watching the news.

All in all, the positives all seem rooted in South Africa with some promising performances, a beautiful backdrop and good production values, featuring some of nature's most talked about predators. Sadly, these highlights don't amount to much without a solid script, developed characters, a layered story or the best from its principal stars, making Dark Tide spectacular yet underwhelming and somewhat numb.

The bottom line: Adrift

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