Into the Blue 1 & 2
Into the Blue (January 7/06)
Before Into the Blue goes completely downhill in its third act, the film is actually fairly engaging in a mindless, check-your-brain-at-the-door sort of way. The movie - which revolves around the dangerous hijinks that ensue after two couples stumble upon a sunken plane filled with drugs - has been directed by John Stockwell, who imbues the proceedings with an exceedingly slick vibe that effectively complements Matt Johnson's simplistic yet strangely compelling screenplay. It's clear right from the outset where all of this is going, yet - like an episode of The O.C. or 90210 - the brisk pace and poppy visuals generally make it easy enough to overlook the film's almost complete lack of substance. But there comes a point at which Into the Blue becomes just overwhelmingly silly, as Johnson begins piling on one ludicrous action sequence after the next (none of which are even all that enjoyable, thanks to an out-of-place PG-13 rating). Stars Jessica Alba and Paul Walker are competent in their respective roles (both were undoubtedly hired for their ability to look good in a swim suit), while Scott Caan delivers a wildly over-the-top performance that's admittedly quite entertaining (if only to see how far he's willing to go). But in the end, Into the Blue sinks underneath the weight of its own outrageousness; even a thriller like this needs to possess a modicum of reality to keep the viewer engaged.
Into the Blue 2: The Reef
Into the Blue 2: The Reef's place as an entirely needless sequel is cemented virtually from its opening frames, as the movie - which retains none of the characters from its mediocre predecessor - suffers from a pervasively low-rent atmosphere that's exacerbated by a storyline that couldn't possibly be less interesting. Screenwriter Mitchell Kapner initially places an egregious emphasis on the fun-loving antics of his thinly-drawn characters, which ultimately results in an opening hour that's rife with sequences wherein the film's heroes participate in beach volleyball tournaments, attend wet t-shirt contests, and engage in other such entirely mindless endeavors. The storyline - which follows professional divers Sebastian (Chris Carmack) and Dani (Laura Vandervoort) as their lives are inevitably threatened by their slick yet sinister new clients (David Anders' Carlton and Marsha Thomason's Azra) - has similarly been augmented with a whole host of thoroughly needless elements, as Kapner emphasizes hopelessly humdrum subplots in a shameless attempt at padding out the movie's running time (ie the ongoing relationship troubles of the heroes' close friends). The competent-yet-bland performances prove unable to alleviate the almost relentlessly uninvolving atmosphere, although - admittedly - it's tough not to get a kick out of Anders' gleefully smarmy work as the nefarious Carlton (with the actor apparently channeling his similarly villainous Alias character). And while the expectedly violent third act does provide the viewer with a temporary respite from the otherwise inane narrative, Into the Blue 2: The Reef is ultimately (and thoroughly) unable to establish itself as anything more than a blatant cashgrab designed to capitalize on the mild notoriety of its forebearer.