Okay, let’s get the obvious out of the way….Halle Berry’s career since her Oscar win for Monster’s Ball has been on a downward spiral. After Monster’s Ball, Berry played the role Jinx in the Bond film Die Another Day. There were talks of spinning the character off into a separate series, but for whatever reason that never came to fruition. Instead of a possible franchise, Berry went on to star in disappointing film after disappointing film; the biggest of which was probably Catwoman. Her role in Things We Lost in the Fire, being more the exception than the norm.
In Dark Tide, Halle Berry plays professional free swim diver and instructor Kate, whom after witnessing a horrific shark attack on her mentor during a dive in South African waters, gives up her profession. 10 years go by, and with her wildlife tour business in dire need of some cash, she agrees to take a wealthy man and his son on an excursion with the possibility of swimming with sharks, but with the promise that they’d see some seals. After much berating from her affluent client due to the lack of sharks, she takes them out to rougher waters for an experience they’ll never forget.
Director John Stockwell’s resume of films includes ocean related films Blue Crush and Into the Blue. Stockwell does a great job in selecting some fantastic locations for the films he shoots, and Dark Tide is no different with the movie filmed during a six-week period on location in False Bay, Cape Town, South Africa. The underwater shots are beautiful, and the real great white shark footage is on par with something out of a Shark Week documentary. Sadly, there’s more to the movie than just its cinematography; and it’s everywhere else that the movie falls apart.
The characters are extremely under developed, and that includes Berry’s Kate. Olivier Martinez, who plays Kate’s husband and ex-partner Jeff, disappears after the initial tragedy; I don’t mean he pulls a vanishing act, I mean that he’s just not around any more. All of a sudden he appears, conveniently at a time when she’s most in need of financial help to save her business, with the chance to meet someone who wants to pay her $100 grand to go swimming with sharks. My first question was, where’d he go? As much as the accident affected Kate, she remained and maintained a business that was run on the water. My second question was, he obviously didn’t stay around to help her deal with what was bothering her, so why listen to him at all? And then, after agreeing to take on the client, what purpose was there for him to be included on the trip?? Kate comes across as someone who, although understandably affected by what happened, makes poor, rash decisions. There’s not much to the character of Kate, and Berry doesn’t do anything to make the character a memorable one. Ralph Brown, who plays the wealth Brady, is given no back story; his persistence to go out on the trip with the intent being to swim with great white sharks outside of a cage is never explained. The opportunity to build up a bit of back story was there, but it never happened. The same can be said for Brady’s son Luke, played by Luke Tyler, who at times it feels like was dragged along on the trip and at other times wants to be there. Again, is there a reason for the bonding time between the two? There’s something touched upon, but it’s almost said in passing. The only thing we know with certainty is that Kate agreed to do the trip because she needed the money, but nothing else really makes any sense; the biggest thing being if she was so upset about her role in what happened to her mentor, than why allow yourself to be talked into doing something you think is a bad idea and don’t want to do? It makes no sense, which is the best way to describe Dark Tide.
It’s a bad thing when the unintended stars of your movie are the sharks and not the story or performances; it’s even worse when you have an Oscar-winning actress as your film’s lead. For a movie that’s 90 minutes long it feels like it moves at a snail’s pace, and when the climax of the film comes around its predictable and no one cares. Dark Tide is the type of movie that really had no purpose in being made in the first place, and the fact that it’s a movie worth forgetting only enhances that. Halle Berry’s a beautiful 46-year-old woman, who has had a successful career, let’s just hope that she can get back to playing meaty characters; otherwise, she’s well on her way to becoming the female Nicholas Cage, and we all see where his career has gone.
Age appropriate: 13+ (scenes of violence, profanity)