Into the Blue

Movie Information

Genre: Cheese-and-Beefcake Action
Director: John Stockwell
Starring: Paul Walker, Jessica Alba, Scott Caan, Ashley Scott, Josh Brolin
Rated: PG-13

Into the Blue isn’t a movie so much as it’s a lame excuse to show Jessica Alba in a variety of skimpy swimming attire. Even before the film gets to the point of “personalizing” its leering approach, the camera leaves little doubt of its primary focus: lingering on scantily clad ladies shown mostly south of the equator.

By the time Alba enters the proceedings, all bets are off — I often thought Into the Blue could serve as a training film for gynecologists. When the camera panned to look straight up Ashley Scott’s legs, I was morally certain that director John Stockwell had spent his formative years tying mirrors to his shoes.

I had forgotten that Stockwell had previously made the Kate Bosworth stinker Blue Crush — another waterlogged opus of similar design. If anything, though, this one’s worse, because it thinks it actually has a plot. Well, there’s something that passes for one, but it’s so harebrained, incoherent and just plain silly that it might as well not be there at all.

It goes something like this: Diver-dude Jared (Paul Walker) has a half-flooded boat and lives in a trailer, but dreams of finding sunken treasure somewhere on the floor of the Caribbean. Sam (Alba) works at some kind of Marineland-like tourist attraction where she appears to be an expert on sharks (this is about like casting Tara Reid as a scientist in Alone in the Dark). She also lives with Jared in his trailer — presumably on the basis of their looking so hot together. Jared has a nemesis named Bates (Josh Brolin, Melinda and Melinda), a wealthy treasure hunter who has a thing for Sam (at least when it suits the purposes of the story).

Enter Jared’s buddy, Bryce (Scott Caan, Ocean’s 12), a lawyer (this is about like casting Tara Reid as a scientist in Alone in the Dark) with a dumb-bimbo girlfriend, Amanda (Ashley Scott, Walking Tall). Bryce supposedly plans on backing Jared’s treasure-hunt scheme, but is actually on the lam because he “borrowed money from the wrong people” (who apparently can’t make it to the Bahamas to settle up with him). Ah, but Jared and Bryce find the plane we saw crash into the ocean in the pre-credit sequence and it turns out to be just bursting at the seams with water-tight packages of cocaine. This sets up a legal and moral dilemma for Jared — fund his scheme, or not? Bryce, of course, is a bit shy in the scruples department and … you can write the rest yourself. And you’d probably do a better job than did screenwriter Matt Johnson.

Johnson’s only other scripting credit is the much funnier Torque, where he wrote the immortal exchange among Martin Henderson, who said, “I gotta get that bike,” and Monet Mazur, who remarked, “I gotta get that bitch,” and Ice Cube, who agreed, “Damn right.” The best Johnson can do here is, “Shut up, you stupid coke whore!” I’ll admit, those words are made almost special thanks to Alba’s deeply felt delivery. The film also offers real sunken treasure, drug dealers, duplicity and sharks that only eat the most objectionable people.

And then there’s the acting. I am convinced that God created Paul Walker in order to make Keanu Reeves look like a giant intellect. As usual, Walker spends all his time appearing to be waiting for someone to tell him what to do next. But let’s be honest — he’s the beefcake to Alba’s cheesecake, nothing more. He doesn’t get to wear skimpy swim trunks, but he is perpetually blessed with baggy shorts that threaten to fall off at any moment.

In a sane world, Walker wouldn’t be in the film proper, but in one of those adverts that run before feature films for Bod body spray, extolling the allure of dousing yourself with a scent called “Really Ripped Abs” (what do those smell like anyway?) before engaging in a variety of sweaty undertakings. Alas, Into the Blue offers ample evidence that we do not live in a sane world. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence, drug material, some sexual content and language.

– reviewed by Ken Hanke

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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