What attempts to be a tense action thriller ends up not the sum of its parts in Dark Tide. While it does feature some great underwater photography, good cast and a few thrills, it unfortunately isn’t all that memorable and falls very flat.
Kate Mathieson(Halle Berry) is a marine biologist and shark whisperer. She’s one of only a handful of people to have swam with sharks outside of a cage and been relatively safe while doing so . Kate is married to documentary film maker Jeff(Olivier Martinez) and they are beginning to film something about sharks in South Africa. Aided by wise cracking engineer Tommy(Mark Elderkin)and marine lover Themba(Thoko Ntshinga), all seems to be going well . But things take a truly grisly turn when on one such dive, her friend Themba is brutally killed by a shark . Devastated and completely shell shocked by this traumatic event, Late shuts off and it breaks apart her relationship with Jeff . A year later, the bank is going to take Kate’s boat away as she isn’t making enough money and is struggling to make ends meet. Jeff comes back into her life again with an offer that could help her out. Arrogant millionaire Brady(Ralph Brown)wants to take him and his son Luke(Luke Tyler) to swim with sharks, specifically outside of the tank. Kate is reluctant to do this as she knows the potential dangers of doing such a thing . She agrees to this on the condition that she decides what is safe to do and if anyone will get out of the safety cages to interact with the sharks . After agreements are made and the fee of one million is paid, Kate and the visitors head to the boat for this journey. Things start reasonably well, but cocky, Hooray Henry Brady soon puts events in jeopardy as he flaunts his wealth and bullies all. Mounting tensions and many hungry sharks have mayhem in mind for Kate and company and chaos soon ensues when a storm hits the boat.
John Stockwell has an affinity for water in his movies it seems and ehile his other aqua based movies aren’t exactly stellar, they look like works of art next to Dark Tide. He just can’t make the film flow or have any cohesion The big problems with Dark Tide are the length and it’s inability to fully decide what it wants to be. It wants to have its cake and eat it by being an action thriller/ drama, yet it never settles onto any real form of trajectory . I’m usually a big lover of films that are somewhat of a slow burn, but Dark Tide is a slog and a half; not understanding that you have to put some oomph into a film to make it enjoyable. The scenery and the underwater photography provide a little respite and has a lot of beauty to it it has to be said, which is a big shame as the rest of the movie around it flounders like an ill at ease fish. It’s probably one of the good things to come out of this shipwreck of a movie and helps generate at least a few jolts of action. The music score is not exactly stellar and I believe could have been better and more effective. The last half an hour is when the pace picks up during the storm, but it is just too little to late to justify what has come before it and the boredom that has been inflicted upon the viewer. But like so many things in Dark Tide, it falls very short in terms of greatness.
A competent cast does good enough work with the thin material they have been given. Halle Berry in the lead is just fine as the wounded shark expert having to face her fears and trauma once more with a blend of attitude and vulnerability. Berry is thankfully one of the good parts of this dud of a movie and truly makes it at least passable whenever she’s on screen. She also has great chemistry with Olivier Martinez, who would later become her partner in real life. Martinez is given a lot to work with but is nonetheless smooth and charming. Ralph Brown plays the rich man with a big mouth and deep pockets very well, almost too well for a movie like this that seems rather beneath his talent. Mark Elderkin has some fun as the engineer who seems to always have a witty line, but Luke Tyler is left stranded as the sulky son of Brady. Thoko Ntshinga plays the catalyst of the story but he is poorly served here and though effective in his short screen time, is not really memorable which is a bit like Dark Tide itself.
A truly messy film that should be exciting but is sorely lacking, Dark Tide is a film best left forgotten as it doesn’t really often anything of interest, despite some good acting. None of that can save this true train wreck.