Great White is a no frills, meat & potatoes shark attack film. Good camera work to portray isolation in the open water… But it features one dimensional characters and a predictable storyline that demands too great a suspension of disbelief.
This Great White movie review contains spoilers.
Great White’s overhead shots of an inflatable raft stranded in shark-infested open water is exceptionally successful at making you feel isolated. However, the predictable plot line and paper-thin character development makes Great White more of a late night popcorn flick.
Consider at one point the film’s lead is underwater for what feels like several minutes waiting to pounce on a great white shark with a knife. Or that a jealous husband pushes over a prospective rival into the water to get eaten over a sneaking peek. Not exactly Oscar winning material but entertaining nonetheless. The suspension of disbelief requirement is quite high.
It all begins when Kaz and Charlie bring over a couple Michelle and Jojo to Hell’s Reef… So they can unload Michelle’s grandfather’s ashes into the ocean.
Michelle’s grandfather was the last survivor of an incident that happened in the open water at Hell’s Reef decades ago and it was his last request. Kaz tells Charlie she’s pregnant at this point, which guarantees by the unwritten Horror movie rules that she’s 100% surviving.
Unfortunately, Michelle needs to be counseled when she finds a blue-tinted man (Jason Wilder) who’d lost his legs to a shark washed ashore on the beach. Kaz finds the man’s cell phone still works and that there was a girlfriend (Tatjana Marjanovic) with him.
Joji is beside himself at this point that the group wants to go find the woman instead of letting the coast guard locate her. And also uncomfortable with cook Benny constantly smiling at and trying to comfort his wife Michelle. Joji wants to leave immediatley and reminds everyone he paid for the trip.
So naturally, hero Charlie ignore Joji’s request completely… And they fly over the ocean in search of the woman. She turns out to be a goner but a great white shark attacks their plane just before they can depart the treacherous waters.
Charlie gives the mayday alert but it’s too late and the group joins together on an inflatable raft. Joji wants to go back to the beach at Hell’s Reef but Charlie tells him it’s not possible with the direction of the water. Instead they’ll paddle 150 kilometers back to the coast.
The group takes turns in pairs paddling while fending off great whites every once in a while. Until the moment comes when Charlie offers warm clothes to Kaz and Michelle who’ve been drenched in the rain.
Benny sneaks a look at Michelle and offers to help her when Joji decides he’s seen enough. He hilariously hits Benny overboard, prompting a great white shark to put him out of his misery. Michelle won’t even look at Joji after this incident.
She gets over it quick though when Joji himself flies overboard after a great white shark has enough of this flimsy plot and hits their raft. Michelle explains earlier in the movie that Joji is afraid to swim because he almost drowned as a youngster.
So Joji swims super slow before a Great White extends sea justice. Michelle is crying her eyes out now when Johi suddenly floats out of the water still alive, before the great white shark ends the tease.
Thus, marine biologist Charlie decides he’ll use a knife to take out the shark by attacking its brain. Charlie ties the knife to the paddle in preparation for this ‘genius’ plan. Suddenly, the group realizes there’s been a puncture in the raft and they’re starting to sink.
Charlie and pregnant wife-to-be Kaz decide to team together underwater against one of the great white sharks. Meanwhile, Michelle will swim back to shore.
Kaz fires a flare gun underwater as a distraction while Charlie stabs a literal great white shark to its end. The shark even lets out one last open jaw yelp before sinking into the depths of the sea. The pair then turn their attention to the great white shark after Michelle. In the most predictable scene in the film, Charlie uses himself as a distraction with the flare gun while Kaz escapes to safety with Michelle.
Is Great White winning any academy awards? Probably not. But it’s a solid shark horror film with crisp camera work. Plus, Katrina Bowden is an absolute knockout in this movie.
It’s no Jaws, and below 47 Meters Down and Open Water in terms of suspense, execution, or messaging.
However, sometimes you just want to sit back and go back to the basics. Sometimes you just want to see a great white shark topple over an inflatable raft repeatedly. Just because. Good times.
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