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Review: Soggy sequel ‘47 Meters Down: Uncaged’ is a waterlogged creature feature

Brianne Tju, Corinne Foxx, Sophie Nélisse and Sistine Stallone in the movie “47 Meters Down: Uncaged.”
Brianne Tju, from left, Corinne Foxx, Sophie Nélisse and Sistine Stallone in the movie “47 Meters Down: Uncaged.”
(Entertainment Studios)

It just isn’t summer until someone punches a shark. Since Jason Statham is off on “Hobbs & Shaw” duties, that task falls to Canadian actress Sophie Nélisse, the plucky heroine of “47 Meters Down: Uncaged,” the wholly unnecessary sequel to the Mandy Moore vehicle “47 Meters Down.” But whereas Moore’s trip to the bottom of the ocean was high-concept yet tightly contained, co-writer and director Johannes Roberts throws all his previous restraint out the window. High school mean girls? Underwater Maya catacombs? Blind sharks!?! You name it, Roberts chums the water with it to see if it draws any bites. The result is a waterlogged late-summer creature feature that doesn’t come close to the previous entry’s minimal pleasures.

Two daughters of Hollywood royalty, Corinne Foxx and Sistine Stallone, make their feature film debuts in “47 Meters Down: Uncaged,” and one can assume their last names and large Instagram followings helped secure their parts. Foxx stars as Sasha, a popular girl at Modine International School for Girls in Yucatán, Mexico, where she’s just moved with her annoying stepsister, Mia (Nélisse), mom (Nia Long) and underwater architect stepfather (John Corbett).

Hoping to avoid a boat trip with Dad, the girls head out on an adventure with Nicole (Stallone) and Alexa (Brianne Tju). Cliff jumping turns into cave diving, as teen girls in Mexico are wont to do, and the foursome head off underwater to explore underground Maya burial sites that are now submerged due to rising sea levels. Mia and Sasha knowingly embark on the trip despite their father producing a great white shark tooth he found there the day before.

The undersea voyage is sort of like a “Marine Biology for Dummies” trip, and it turns disastrous as the girls destroy a few centuries-old underwater columns and stir up the terrors of the deep, namely, sharks that have evolved to live in such dark confines and are therefore blind. The film is a bit like “The Descent” meets “The Meg,” as the girls venture into a claustrophobically tight space and don’t like what they find there.

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Roberts, working with a much larger scenic and visual palette this time, seems adrift. There are some very cool settings, like the underwater Maya passageways and temple statues, and some neat lighting effects creating a few moments of visually inspired suspense. But even with the larger setting, everything just seems geographically swirled beyond recognition, especially underwater.

Rather than focusing on the specific aspects that make the film unique, “47 Meters Down: Uncaged” turns into a rehash of references to other shark movies. Corbett gets his “Deep Blue Sea” moment, and the final act is like something out of “Open Water” crossed with “The Shallows.” None of the actresses are particularly up to the task, with the exception of Nélisse, who goes from cowering nerd to shark-punching water warrior. Feel free to stay out of the water with this one.

Katie Walsh is a Tribune News Service film critic.

‘47 Meters Down: Uncaged'
Rated: PG-13 for creature-related violence and terror, some bloody images and brief rude gestures

Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes

Playing: In general release

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