Into the Blue is that rare breed of bad movie where you can’t laugh at it (at least much), you can’t feel sorry for it, but all you can really do is stare, bug-eyed, at the screen and watch as millions of dollars are hurled at us in the form of bad special effects and a virtually impenetrable labyrinth of a story that I cannot imagine a single soul caring about. The film’s trailers and posters make it abundantly clear that the film is really only about PG-13 T&A, but it can’t even get that right.
Speaking of getting things right, I’ll do my best with a plot synopsis. As the film opens, an airplane full of obviously unsavory characters crashes somewhere in the ocean. Drugs and/or money are on board. We meet up with Jared (Walker) onshore. He’s a “29-year-old dive-bum” and has just been fired from his job as a scuba instructor. His ex-friend (I think), Bates (Brolin), tells him of treasure buried deep below the surface that he is after. Jared’s girlfriend, Sam (Alba), also appears to be going nowhere in life, but at least they’re happy.
In for vacation are friends Bryce (Caan) and Amanda (Scott), both of which are also very stupid. We are supposed to believe that Bryce is a lawyer, but I highly doubt that this guy could pass a third grade spelling test, and on top of that he is really annoying. Amanda is the token dumb blonde who will do anything for a few bucks. Together, the four go diving and discover the downed plane, which is loaded with cocaine that the foursome wants to cash in. They also discover remnants of a vessel called “The Zephyr,” which we are told is also worth a pile of money. Soon the group finds itself in hot water with a group of drug dealers who also want a stake in The Zephyr.
It hardly matters. Everything about this film is discombobulated and remarkably inept. Let’s start with director John Stockwell, who showed real promise with 2001’s Crazy/Beautiful. His camera lingers and positions itself in full dirty old man mode as it is his main responsibility to make these already beautiful people look even better. Here’s the problem: what shows on screen feels like a voyeur’s video. There are long shots of various asses and plumber’s cracks (in the case of the guys), but all of this feels strangely dirty. It is so deliberate that it is unforgivable. On top of that, when the film goes completely berserk in its last twenty minutes, Stockwell’s direction is nothing but a blur of random violence and people diving in and out of the “blue” water that we keep hearing so much about. Nothing makes sense, but no one cares anyway.
Matt Johnson’s laughable screenplay doesn’t help matters at all. With enough ideas for three movies, Johnson carelessly throws in every last brain fart he can think of. We don’t even have a clue what the film is really about until at least the forty-five minute mark. Never a good sign. His dialogue is forced and completely unfunny, especially since he is counting on Scott Caan’s character of Bryce to be the comedic backbone.
The performances are flat-out awful across the board. I have maintained for several years now that a scarecrow with stubble could easily replace Paul Walker in any given film, and that carries over here. He ranges from dead serious to laughably over-the-top – and never succeeding in either form. Jessica Alba will inevitably draw a large crowd of teenage boys, and perhaps that is her job. Her acting is ludicrous, and not even in a campy way, which would have been more than appropriate. Scott Caan continues to annoy and display faulty comedic timing on all fronts. Ashley Scott gives it a go, but also falls flat. Perhaps the biggest blown opportunity falls on Josh Brolin, who should have been hamming it up with all his might. Instead he makes for a horribly weak villain without any screen presence whatsoever.
Into the Blue is a horrible miscalculation, and it can’t even excel at providing a response to the animal instincts we all have. I didn’t think anyone would want to challenge Alone in the Dark for worst film of the year, but Stockwell and his minions have given it a good effort. Avoid at all costs.
Studio: Sony Pictures
Length: 110 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence, drug material, some sexual content and language.
Theatrical Release: September 30, 2005
Directed by: John Stockwell
Written by: Matt Johnson
Cast: Paul Walker, Jessica Alba, Scott Caan, Ashley Scott, Josh Brolin, James Frain