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Dark Tide

2012 | PG-13 | 2.39:1

Dark Tide


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User reviews

1 user review

Movie appeal




Theatrical release date

 30 March, 2012
 22 October, 2012

Country of origin

 United States



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Screenshots from Dark Tide Blu-ray

Dark Tide Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, March 28, 2012

It’s disappointing to report that “Dark Tide” isn’t the type of shark attack extravaganza many will be expecting. While it’s always interesting to find a production that teases one direction before heading off into another, it’s deflating to find this picture left with nothing much to do and nearly two hours to do it. A bewildering bore, “Dark Tide” imagines itself a cross between “Jaws” and a Bergman film, pitting uncharismatic actors against a dreary script that doesn’t go anywhere. High adventure on the vast sea this feature is most certainly not. Instead, director John Stockwell appears more comfortable showcasing inconsequential arguments and murky underwater footage, creating a home movie ambiance that’s wearisome from start to finish.

A daredevil free-swimmer unable to get over the tragic death of lifelong dive companion, Kate (Halle Berry) has forgotten her highly honed shark sense, trying to make a living in South Africa working boat tours of the area’s sea creatures. Jumping back into her life is estranged husband Jeff (Olivier Martinez), an oceanographer also hoping to rebuild his confidence, bringing bullying tycoon Brady (Ralph Brown) and his passive son Nate (Luke Tyler) to Kate’s attention, with hopes of reconciliation. Determined to swim with a Great White Shark, Brady offers Kate an enormous sum of money to escort him beyond a protective cage, a prospect the experienced diver vehemently refuses. Out at sea, tensions soon rise to a point of recklessness, with Kate finally ready to let Brady experience the wilds of the deep blue sea, charting a course into shark-infested waters to provide the ultimate thrill.

Apparently, John Stockwell loves the water. The director of “Blue Crush” and “Into the Blue” returns to the wet with “Dark Tide,” which marks a subtle change for the helmer, as the new film features semi-mature characters and surprisingly very little leering (a Stockwell specialty) outside of some expected bikini top exhibition from Berry. Taking the production to South Africa, Stockwell is offered an expansive coast of impossible beauty, taking time throughout the picture to focus on the creatures that populate the ocean, including sea lions and penguins, achieving an admittedly beguiling note of tourism. Granted, it’s not difficult to point a camera at wondrous sights when dealing with this region of the world, but the extended concentration on atmosphere is appreciated.

If only there was something more to “Dark Tide” beyond rolling waves and darting shark footage. Although it promises a tone of escalating danger in the first act, the feature (scripted by Ronnie Christensen and Amy Sorlie) doesn’t go anywhere near outright disaster until the last 20 minutes. The remaining screen time is concentrated on the relationship between Kate and Jeff, a couple finding themselves at odds after a diving catastrophe. Stockwell aims for a naturalistic approach to the couple’s communication, creating an improvisational area for Berry and Martinez to work within. However, the actors have nothing but limp scenarios to manipulate, not to mention being two talents in definite need of electrifying writing to come alive onscreen. These marital woes are rendered meaningless by the tepid script and feeble direction, making the subplot inert, which slowly overwhelms the more exciting activities involving Brady, a blowhard outsider looking for cheap thrills for reasons not immediately made clear.

“Dark Tide” displays a few blips of life when intensely concentrated on Brady’s pushy behavior, building to a peak of irresponsibility that never arrives. Once again, the production just allows the suspense to float aimlessly, assuming tepid conflict on a rocking boat is exotic enough to pass. “Dark Tide” is a frustrating sit, but never more so than when it deals with Brady’s unrealized potential for maritime disaster. The ingredients are all there to accelerate the feature toward something resembling tension, yet Stockwell is all too eager to let anxiety deflate, unable to fixate on a single rousing element that would carry the effort to a conclusion worth caring about.

Calamity finally strikes in the third act, and true to its title, much of the action takes place in the dark, leaving a noisy, chaotic mess of whipping waters and murky cinematography that isn’t worth the effort to study. It’s an anticlimactic ending to a stillborn motion picture. With South Africa, bikini Berry, and an aggressive, nicotine-deprived multimillionaire begging to be shark bait, “Dark Tide” appears to have everything a filmmaker would need for a little exploitative venture. Leave it to John Stockwell and his unimaginative directorial touch to spoil the potential fun.

Starring: Halle Berry, Olivier Martinez, Ralph Brown
Director: John Stockwell

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