Arse City Blues

Not so much a thriller as a teenage boy’s bedroom wall brought to life, the beautifully photographed but entirely empty treasure-hunt potboiler Into the Blue offers Jessica Alba (above, jesus) gambolling around in a skimpy bikini as a welcome distraction from trying to make sense of an unhinged and derivative plot that is woefully overextended.

Paul Walker stars alongside Alba as Jared and Sam, young lovers who live humbly on houseboat in the Bahamas. She appears to work feeding fish to orcas at an aquarium, while he is repairing an old boat to search for buried treasure. Their rival in the doubloon hunt is Bates (played by Josh Brolin), who has a bigger boat and a nasty piratical sneer. In a pair of crippling coincidences straight out of 1977's The Deep, Jared and his friends discover the remains of a legendary Spanish shipwreck, chock full of golden artefacts, and conveniently less than 100 metres away, a recently crashed drug-running plane with 800lbs of cocaine on board. Sam and Jared, clean-living surf-warriors, want nothing to do with the coke. Somewhat less principled, his lawyer buddy Bryce (Scott Caan) and new girlfriend Amanda (Alba's former co-star on Alias, Ashley Scott) suggest fishing out and selling the coke to a local drug dealer to buy the equipment necessary to excavate the treasure. It’s Catch 22, but none of these people give the impression they can count that high.

Alba is infintely more beautiful woman than beautiful actress. She might be the hottest young starlet in Hollywood, but she hasn’t yet delivered a wholly realised, convincing performance. Junior Caan, like his father before him, can play your typical annoying, macho Yank well enough, with the superficial Walker doing what he can with his highly principled beach bum character. Acting aside, the film is further hamstrung by a long list of clanging absurdities – not least of which is the gang’s discovery, in 60 feet of crystal clear Caribbean ocean, of the long-lost treasure ship – in a world where the waters are busier than the roads. As for Walker holding his breath indefinitely underwater, well, despite what Alba thinks, we’re not here for an anatomy lesson.

Director John Stockwell presents characters that are tissue thin, so the clunky second-half suspenses and artificially mounted tension evaporate off them like sea water from warm skin. The four principals bravely soldier on, reeling from the weight of the thing, bouncing off shock character developments and skipping over the enormous potholes in the plot. When the final reel asks us to follow two separate, but interwoven threads of narrative come to their violent conclusions, with harpoons, explosives and strategically timed shark bites all coming into play, its easier to just sit back and let the luxuriant underwater photography wash over you, like a chilly October dream of a week on a hot white beach.

Into the Blue is the opposite of an essential film, being more an opportunity for some much-needed cinematic sightseeing, but there are mild action thrills and Alba-inspired thigh-rubbings to be had as long as you keep expectations low.

1 comment:

Fence said...

And this is the film that seems to be constantly sold-out whenever I visit the cinema?