A group of people drifting along the ocean in a rubber raft find themselves stalked by a Great White shark who is determined to make a meal out of all of them.
Ever since I was a little kid, I have always loved sharks. I think that they are beautiful and fascinating creatures, and at the same time, some of them are just more than a little scary. The first movie I ever saw at a drive-in was Jaws 2, and I still have the ticket stub from that night all these years later. I’m always up for a good shark movie (even though most of them don’t portray them in a realistic manner and make them out to be monsters who just live to eat people, which couldn’t be further from the truth), so I was quite excited to see Great White after I heard about it. I thought that it sounded a lot like Open Water (which I dig) and couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into it (see what I did there?}. So, did it live up to my expectations or did I walk away feeling disappointed after checking it out? I have to say it was probably a little bit from both column A and column B, but I really enjoyed it for the most part despite some small issues I had with it.
The premise is straight forward, so you don’t have to think too hard about it. We have a couple who run a charter airplane company and their friend (who also works for them as a cook) who agree to take another couple on a flight to an island so they can spread the ashes of a deceased family member there. Once they get there, they discover the body of a shark attack victim (who is eaten by the title creature in the opening scene) and make the unwise decision to check out his boat to see if his girlfriend has survived the attack (she didn’t). Unfortunately, while they are investigating the boat and searching for the girlfriend the shark comes back for more snacks and sinks their plane, leaving them at the mercy of the ocean in a little rubber raft miles away from shore. Of course, the shark isn’t quite done with them and continues to stalk and attack them as they try to make it to land, picking off members of the group one-by-one. It’s an interesting idea, but at the same time it’s also extremely unoriginal. I’ve seen a ton of similar movies with the same premise and sadly the filmmakers don’t really try to do anything different with the idea and as such don’t exactly bring anything new to the table. In a way it almost seems like the people behind it saw the 2018 film Surrounded and put their own spin on it as the two movies are remarkably similar. Don’t get me wrong, I dug the premise for the most part, but just wish they’d done something a little differently to make it stand out among the crowd.
The acting is decent, and I liked most of the characters. Aaron Jakubenko and Katrina Bowden are fine as the main characters Kaz and Charlie, and I also liked Benny (Te Kohe Tuhaka) and Michelle (Kimie Tsukakoshi), but my favorite character was Joji (Tim Kano) as he’s a character you love to hate. He’s a jealous, arrogant, annoying guy and you can’t wait for him to get killed off, but for some reason I liked him. I thought that the cast was great for the most part and you wanted them to survive (well, most of them, anyway) and you can’t help but root for them. My only complaint is that the whole pregnancy thing seemed cookie cutter and forced, and I wish they had expanded on why Joji was so jealous of Benny (it is hinted that Benny could have had a previous relationship with Michelle, but nothing is ever done with the idea). I thought that the cast did an impressive job for the most part and is one of the strengths of the film.
On the other hand, Great White is not without its flaws. It moves a little too slow at times (especially during the first half) and the rest of the film feels rushed after the shark shows up and starts eating people. Some characters get killed off WAY too fast and their death scenes aren’t anything special. There is also a serious lack of suspense for the most part as the shark repeatedly shows up, kills someone, swims away and then comes back to do the same thing moments later. I also wasn’t fond of the twist toward the end and the ending seemed very, very rushed as I was expecting something a little more impressive to happen but things just sort of peter out in the last five minutes or so.
I dug Great White and didn’t think it was a bad movie, but it was far from perfect. It was fun for the most part and you will enjoy it if you are into killer shark movies, but don’t go into it expecting anything new or different. I enjoyed it for what it was, but at the same time I was really hoping that it tried something unique and fresh to distinguish itself from countless other similar movies, but alas, it was not meant to be. Check it out if you are a fan of movies of this type, you could do a whole lot worse.