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Great White (2021) Review

Great White ain’t so great – but it’s not that bad, either

While its title isn’t exactly inspired (or particularly accurate), there’s a lot to like about GREAT WHITE, a shark survival movie whose greatest sin is that it’s basically fine.

When a charter flight to a remote atoll to spread some ashes comes to an abrupt end when their seaplane is sunk by an aggressive shark, the flight crew of three and their two passengers find themselves trapped on an inflatable liferaft a hundred miles from shore and stalked by the same shark which sunk their plane.

It starts conventionally enough with a young couple enjoying themselves on their yacht but an ill-advised dip in the sea ends in tragedy and sets the scene for the arrival of our real hero. Aaron Jakubenko plays Charlie, the dashing devil-may-care pilot of the charter plane – who I immediately and irrevocably christened ‘Matthew McWannabe’ – and the film spends at least five minutes setting up his character and that of his girlfriend (on the cusp of fiancée) Kaz (Katrina Bowden). While the script is unremarkable, there’s just enough personality in Jakubenko and Bowden’s performances to give them an authentic chemistry that’s all but unheard of in these kinds of movies. The other three principal players are a little less developed but they do the job they’re needed for without putting a foot wrong.

In its set-up, it feels a lot like FRENZY but where that movie repeatedly doubled-down on stupid plot twists and contrived situations, apart from the unfeasibly persistent sharks, there’s not much in GREAT WHITE that strains the bounds of credibility. The final ‘showdown’ is pretty well orchestrated and while the shark “roaring” loses the movie some points, it’s a solidly handled finale. The performances are decent and the cast are likeable enough (except for the one who’s meant to be deeply unlikeable) and the effects and cinematography are decent and even occasionally impressive.

There’s a smart use of silhouettes and shadows and when it comes time to see the shark, there’s a competent and reasonably consistent mix of CGI model and stock footage.

GREAT WHITE is on a par with the more polished sharksploitation titles like THE SHALLOWS and, like that movie, there’s nothing new here you haven’t seen before which is probably why GREAT WHITE hasn’t generated the kind of following its adequacy deserves. However, what’s not in doubt is that the people decrying this as a bad shark movie haven’t watched nearly enough genuinely terrible shark movies.