First came the mega-successful Jaws, then a host of inferior shark flicks followed. Now Dark Tide, a shark-infested thriller co-starring Halle Berry and Olivier Martinez, splashes onto the screen. But we can’t see what’s happening in many of the most frightening scenes here. Why not? Because they occur at night and -- you guessed it -- in dark tide. Also, a couple of daylight sequences fail to make sense, so no matter how much we enjoy watching the push-pull of the relationship between characters played by Martinez and Berry, the film fails to engage us completely.
Berry (Oscar winner for Monster’s Ball) portrays marine biologist Kate, one of the few people who can swim with sharks outside a cage. Martinez (Unfaithful) is cast as Kate’s husband Jeff, a documentarian interested in filming his wife’s daring underwater exploits. After one of their projects ends tragically, they separate for reasons that seem unclear. We meet Kate and Jeff again after about a year of estrangement from each other. Kate faces financial ruin, and her sea tour business is about to go under when Jeff appears with an idea about how she can turn things around. Because the project involves a very wealthy man (Ralph Brown) who wants to swim with the sharks, Kate is skeptical at first. Still, despite issues of trust, Kate gives in to Jeff’s persuasive pleas. And the nightmare begins.
Merely thinking about being close to a shark fills me with terror, so the premise of Dark Tide put me in the mood for a scary movie. Unfortunately, I felt none of those creepy Jaws-like thrills while watching this uneven offering. Granted, the fear-inducing theme music in Jaws helped that film considerably. But even the shark attack in Soul Surfer frightened me more than the bloody ones in Dark Tide.
On the plus side, this film boasts some fascinating footage of South Africa’s penguins and seals as well as of sharks swimming calmly with Berry’s character. Also, Berry and Martinez make an intriguing couple. They keep us wondering if Kate and Jeff will ever get back together. Because their interactions come across as both mysterious and playful, we can’t help being curious about how this part of the film will end. And, by the way, Berry looks in top form here -- as does Martinez. Viewers who enjoy eye candy won’t be disappointed.
(Released by Lionsgate and rated “R” for bloody shark attacks/disturbing images, and for language, including sexual images. Video on demand availability from March 8 to March 30, 2012, and limited theatrical release begins on March 30.)
For more information about Dark Tide, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.