Bait – 1 out of 5
I say this every time I review a shark movie but I really do love these things. A very, very small fraction of them are genuinely good (like ridiculously small) but the rest of them are enjoyable in their own way—that way being they are hilarious and are those “good bad” type of films. However, I think I’ve found one of those very rare ones that are neither good nor good-bad and was just plain bad. This Australian-Singaporean horror/thriller/drama/cartoon proved to be that and it was really disappointing. I wanted to laugh and have some fun with some over-the-top shark goodness but Bait was just a lame duck (no offense to ducks).
|The shark looks like he just got done at the buffet and is wandering home tired|
and bloated. I know the feeling, friend.
|Nature is basically just a great white delivery service|
in this modern age.
After tragedy struck lifeguard Josh (Xavier Samuel), he finds himself without the love of his life and trying to live with the death of his best friend while working at a supermarket. One day, while a criminal by name of Doyle (Julian McMahon) is attempting to rob the store, a tsunami strikes and traps the criminal, Josh, several employees and even Josh’s former love; Tina (Sharni Vinson), in the building. The store starts to flood and they all soon realize that they are not alone in the vicinity and that a great white shark has also found its way in and it is really hungry. Now they have to find a way out or find themselves as another meal for the aquatic predator.
|Awww, look at him trying to be sneaky.|
Make sharks ghosts, I’m in. Put the sharks in the ground and make them sand sharks, I’m in. Put them in a tornado, I’m in. Make the shark the extinct Megalodon and have John Barrowman fight it and then literally tell a girl he wants to go down on her, I am SUPER in! So, when I saw this movie involved trapped people in a flooded building caused by a tsunami and that act of nature also somehow carried great whites with it and, miraculously, deposited them without harm into said building, I thought I was going to be in for a delight. Instead, what followed was a movie with conflicting tones and acting that was all over the place.
|A tsunami is coming so, of course, there's one surfer who is running directly at the |
With all shark films, there’s a suspension of disbelief that accompanies them. The main one, of course, is that sharks aren’t nearly as kill-y as the movies make them out to be but the better shark features (and by that I mean, the more hilarious ones) really require you to suspend the hell out of that disbelief as things like science, nature and basic physics are completely tossed out the window. This movie definitely has these moments and they come in the form of the group worrying about an exposed power cable over the water (and then deactivated said power cable by shutting off the fuse box that is completely submerged underwater), cars that are totally underwater but are somehow watertight, and the idea that a stun-gun will murder a shark. In theory, these are fine for your run-of-the-mill silly shark productions but they end up being a stark antithesis to the character drama this film delivers and makes for some very unique, but incredibly jarring, shift in tones.
|Thank God for water and air tight vehicles! (Seriously, they are completely|
submerged and no leaking...and remain that way for a long time)
|Look, the replacement boyfriend character. Clearly he|
will survive and not die needlessly and the female
lead will forget about him instantly and move
on to the old flame.
Bait really likes to take its human drama moments very, very seriously. In fact, too seriously. The characters start out all poorly developed and weakly introduced but periodically through the feature the story will take these moments to try and give them dimension. We get a girl who is caught shoplifting before the tsunami and we suddenly learn that she lost her mother and that’s why she acts out. Or there’s the criminal who is apparently doing this job against his will in order to even things out with his partner (and then the film never really elaborates on that). Then you have the main character who is wearing his heartbreak on his face literally every second of the story. These moments could work in other movies but when you have a scene that involves a very cartoonish bad guy on the verge of throwing on a bowler hat as he twirls his mustache while tying a woman to a set of train tracks (and the train is made of sharks) and you have a character create a shark cage out of shopping baskets (among other things), it’s a little hard to take the human drama seriously and it ultimately makes the movie feel like it was two separate scripts welded into one really messy feature.
|Hey look, it's that guy from the terrible Fantastic Four movie. Oh wait, I should clarify...|
He was in the two that weren't as bad as the third one. Actually, let's start
again--Hey look, it's Christian from Nip/Tuck.
|I will criticize this man's acting but respect that he never|
saw a limit to how thick he wanted to lay it on.
The final element that aids in these weird shifts in tones from weird movie logic to crazy human drama is the performances. Every actor seems to be on their own page for what tone the film is going for so every actor is all over the place and nothing gels. For example, there’s the evil robber who is working alongside Julian McMahon’s character and he is chewing every bit of scenery he can in an effort for you to know he is diabolically evil. Then there’s the people who look like they came in as a favor to the director and that’s mingling with those who think this is their big break. The hardest actor to watch, ultimately, was the lead; Xavier Samuel. For 99% of the film, he wears a single expression on his face and thinks it is interchangeable with such feelings as concentration, heartache and brilliant insights. He’s not a terrible actor per se but he really stuck with one expression and it is very distracting throughout the entire film.
|He really likes this look...|
|This one is a slight variation. He added a hint of "disgust" to it.|
|He can even take that look outdoors.|
|This one is a little softer than the rest.|
|Hell, he can even do it underwater. And that's just the tip of how often he uses|
|This happened early in the film and it was an unfair precedent|
to set because the rest of the kills were exponentially tamer.
I really wanted something goofy and fun with a movie like Bait or, at the very least, one that offered up some good shark kills but the final product was something that would take itself too seriously some times and not seriously enough during other times. It then went a step further with acting that was all over the place. The final nail in the coffin of this one is the fact that the body count is really low (unless you count all the faceless folks who perish in the bad special effects that are the tsunami) and there’s really not much gory action. I can overlook how silly the CGI sharks look but when you skimp on the gore in a shark attack movie you’ve committed a horrible offense!