Into the Blue Review
If The Deep was a belated cash-in on the success of Jaws, then by some twisted logic does that make Into the Blue a belated cash-in on Deep Blue Sea. Certainly, it shares that chasm in quality between Jaws and The Deep, though of course Deep Blue Sea was nothing more than an unashamed, though guiltily pleasurable, B movie. A closer reference point, however, would be the two Fast and the Furious movies; Into the Blue shares the presence (if you will) of Paul Walker, whilst the hotrod action and automobile fetishism here translates into exotic deep sea diving and the ogling of various nubile young things in their swimwear. Indeed, it’s all a bit “boy’s own”, what with its evil drug barons, sunken pirate treasure and, predominantly, Jessica Alba in a tiny bikini. Perhaps this explains as to why John Stockwell was brought in to direct – a veteran of ‘chick flicks’ such Crazy/Beautiful and Blue Crush there solely to tempt in the female demographic.
Yet the decision falls resounding flat, primarily because Stockwell clearly isn’t interested in the material. And who can blame him? The dual sunken treasure-evil drug lords plotlines are awkwardly tied in together as though one was needed to bulk out the other’s run time, in fact the whole thing feels underdeveloped. Such is the obviousness of both the setup and the eventual dramatic progressions that you could easily watch Into the Blue without the sound on and still understand every last detail. Admittedly, Stockwell attempts to disguise this as much as possible – he places the unwieldy exposition scenes in exotic locations and smothers sleek R’n’B over proceedings at any given opportunity – yet it’s all to little avail. The key moments (it wouldn’t be fair to describe them set-pieces) are thus rendered crushingly unexceptional meaning that all we’re left with are the aesthetics of a big-budget hip-hop promo: the aspirant lifestyle of huge yachts and gleaming jet-skis, not to mention, once again, the proliferation of bikini shots.
But of course, a three-minute music video doesn’t easily translate into 105-minute feature, and indeed we’re faced with a numbingly empty experience. Walker and Alba, as the central treasure-seeking, baddie-avoiding couple, are so whiter-than-white that not a single ounce of character is able to sneak in. Scott Caan, as Walker’s best buddy, tries to inject some much needed humour, though such valiant efforts are repeatedly met by the all round, and overriding, banality. Only James Frain, as the token British villain, perks the interest, albeit for far too briefly. Pleasingly venal and clearly seeing the material as being way below him (the sneering at Walker seems to extend beyond the animosity between the characters), he certainly does a better job than fellow Brit Max Beesley managed in the equally dismal Torque. Then again, that’s no great achievement and makes you wonder quite why he agreed to appear in the first place. After all, Into the Blue is hardly the kind of film you’d like to see on your CV now is it?
Perhaps deciding that Into the Blue wasn’t really worth the effort, Sony/MGM are issuing the film in what is hardly perfect condition. Whilst the image retains the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and presents in anamorphically, it also suffers from some very prominent edge enhancement and moments of quite noticeable softness. Indeed, it seems more than a little strange that Sony would mar perhaps the only quality that the film had going for it. As for the soundtrack, here we find a DD5.1 mix and it’s in expectedly fine condition. Crisp and clean throughout, it copes just as well with the soundtrack as it does the banal dialogue.
Of the extras, it’s worth taking a looking at the ‘Diving Deeper…’ featurette, even if it’s only for some of the ridiculous things that come out of Stockwell’s mouth. A couple of samples: he describes the film as having “real drive and originality… sort of a character piece”; and moments later he proclaims that it deals with “the complexities of life”. Sadly, his feature length commentary isn’t quite so chucklesome, but instead offers a dry, dull, overly technical affair. If you wish to know about pool temperatures and the like, then this is the commentary for you.
Thankfully, Stockwell sticks more to point when offering his optional thoughts over the collection of ten deleted scenes. Pleasing honest and direct in his explanations, he explains that most were cut simply because they told us stuff we didn’t really need to know. Rounding off the package we also find a collection of screen tests for Scott Caan (once on his own, the other time with Walker) and Tyson Beckford.