Open Water 2:Adrift
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Open Water 2: Adrift

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One of the most basic fears that a human being can encounter is that of being isolate, facing danger with no where to turn. This has also been a theme well explored by cinema. One of the best examples would have to be in Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘North by Northwest’. When Cary Grant is alone in an isolated field, the plane growing out of the distance, the audience can feel the fear on a visceral level. In 2003 director Chris Kentis took this primordial fear and created the thriller, ‘Open Water’ where a couple out SCUBA diving is left behind by the boat as a group of sharks gathers around. Much like sharks tasting blood in the water studio executives can sense money in a sequel and ‘Open Water 2: Adrift’ received a green light for production. One axiom of Hollywood appears to be bigger is better so they took the stranded couple, added two more couples and just for good measure a baby. This time, the boat doesn’t leave them behind. It’s right there in front of the group only there is no way for them to get back on board.

Years ago Zach (Niklaus Lange), Dan (Eric Dane) and Amy (Susan May Pratt) were best of friends. To celebrate Zach’s thirtieth birthday Dan invites the group and their significant others on hi new yacht, the Godspeed. Zach brings along his girlfriend Lauren (Ali Hillis) while Dan is accompanied by his girlfriend of 18 days, Michelle (Cameron Richardson). Amy brings her husband James (Richard Speight Jr.) and their infant daughter Sarah (Mattea and Luca Gabarretta). Amy has a serious fear of the water so it takes a little convincing to get her on board but once the group is out in open water the fun soon begins. Bikinis are put on, a breast shaped cake is brought out and all their worries seem very far away. The boat is anchored and most for the party goers opt for a swim in the beautiful water. Left on board is Dan, Amy and of course, Sarah. It took all of Amy’s courage just to get on board she was not about to actually go into the water. Determined to rid Amy of her fear Dan scoops Amy into his arms and jumps into the water. When the group begins to tire of splashing in the water they want to return on deck only no one had the presence of mind to lower the boarding ladder before they leapt in. The hull of the yacht is too slippery to climb up so the six adults are stranded in the water. To make matters worse not only for the six people in the water but also the audience Sarah begins to cry. Amy is almost catatonic with panic. Michelle begins to babble chanting the Lord’s Prayer and having fits of hyperventilation. As night falls the group begins to dissect each other emotionally. Blame is passed around ultimately falling on Dan. The root cause for Amy’s fear of the water goes back to a childhood incident where she watched her father drown. There is only one life jacket between them so most have to tread water constantly to stay afloat. The do have one idea, create a make shift rope out of their bathing suites to try to pull one of them back onboard. For some reason they have a cell phone but that gets too wet to be useful. Besides, I seriously doubt there is a cell tower floating near by. I get dropped calls in Brooklyn, what chance did they have in the middle of the ocean?

This film was actually made before the 2003 ‘Open Water’. It languished in the can and European distribution until the success of ‘Open Water’. Since the ending of the first film was not conducive to a direct sequel a ‘thematic’ sequel was needed and this film looked to fit the bill. Now I am a big believer in the concept of ‘suspension of belief’ while watching a movie but this film stretched things too much to bear. The gaps in the plot were as numerous as potholes on a New York City street. Ten minutes on Google and I found that all yachts of this size have foot holds on the hull to prevent just this type of problem. The life jacket did not come equipped with the standard light and whistle. Also, a craft this size would require some trained crew to run. No one on board had the requisite skills set to even get the ship out of the harbor. The film is paced well but the editor should have been taken out to sea and thrown overboard. It’s not just the disappearing and reappearing pacifier with the baby but the uneven cuts of the people in the water. There is little in the way of character or thematic arcs to hold the attention of the audience; just one shot after another of people bobbing up and down.

What might have saved this film to some degree would have been a good cast. Unfortunately, most of the actors here were not given enough in the script to develop their characters. In a film like this it is imperative that the audience bonds to the characters. We have to be made to feel for them and become invested enough in their plight to hope they make it. Personally I wanted a school of sharks to come by just to stop the constant whining and provide some action. Almost everyone in this film plays a caricature of an overused stereotype. Cameron Richardson plays the usual superficial bimbo; Eric Dane is the grandiose playboy ultimately deceiving not only his friends but himself. The only one here with even a modicum of believability is Susan May Pratt who actually gives some thought to the way she played Amy. If more was given to the characters being slowly stripped of their polite façade the premise would have made a pretty good psychological thriller.

Lion’s Gate Entertainment provides this film with a pretty plain vanilla DVD release. The anamorphic video is up to contemporary standards with a reasonable color palette. The Dolby 5.1 audio does provide a very good sense of openness with some nice sound effects of the water. There is a making of featurette that does little to justify the production. The film had potential but fell short of achieving it. Stick to the 2003 ‘Open Water’ and hope that ‘Open Water 3’ is never made.

Posted 02/05/07

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