There are so many shark movies out there that it’s somewhat staggering. I’ve reviewed a few here on Geektastic Film Reviews myself (Super Shark, Sharknado, Ghost Shark), but the constant flow of cheap killer fish faux epics make it hard to stay up to date. But I am trying, and that’s what led me to Bait (Bait 3D in theaters).
When a tsunami hits the shores of Australia, a group of criminals and customers are trapped in a below ground supermarket. The floods brought with it a couple of great white sharks that now swim through the aisles looking for their next meal.
The set up is a little asinine, but it’s pulled off in a fun and somewhat frightening way. I’ve actually had nightmares about this type of scenario as a youngster, so the plot device of “sharks loose in a supermarket” hit close to home for this dude. So right there this film gets an immediate pass from me.
The script by Russell Mulcahy (director of Highlander, Resident Evil: Extinction and The Shadow) and John Kim is decent for this genre. They actually manage to build the characters up to a point where you give a shit if they live or die. They also milk the suspense out of every single scenario they create once the sharks are loose in the store. A few of the action bits are also surprisingly well handled regardless of how far fetched some of them may be. My only gripe is the overly cliché and hokey opening scene involving a lifeguard and a shark which is made even worse by some ham fisted directing.
Director Kimble Rendall, who was a second unit director on some mega budget epics like The Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions, I, Robot, Ghost Rider and Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, shows a steady hand and a lot of talent (I wouldn’t be surprised if visual auteur Russell Mulcahy lent an assist once in a while) when dealing with this somewhat cheesy material. The stupidly goofy opening scene aside, he manages to keep things serious and fast paced once the sharks hit the shoppers and the blood never really stops. Sure there are missteps along the way, but they are minimal and nothing overly horrendous as to ruin the feel of the film.
The acting is pretty solid. I was especially thrilled to see Sharni Vinson so soon after her big breakout role in You’re Next. Her character is the complete opposite here, and the fact that she’s in a bikini for the entire film made me smile. Seeing Julian McMahon (Fantastic Four, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Nip/Tuck) playing someone other than a crazy surgeon or Doctor Doom was a welcome change-up. He actually plays a halfway decent dude here and shows that he has what it takes to be a leading man again. The rest of the cast, Xavier Samuel, Richard Brancatisano, Alice Parkinson and scores more are all up to the task and do what they do well.
The effects are the weakest aspect of the flick. Some of the animatronic sharks look cool and suitably nasty, but at times the CG versions look overly fake and silly. Sure they do their job for the most part, but at times they look like the video gamey ones from Deep Blue Sea. Especially during the dumb opening sequence.
But how does Bait stack up against all the other shark movies out there? Well, I’d most directly compare it to the aforementioned Deep Blue Sea. The sharks here aren’t super smart, or smart in general, but they are some of the most savage I’ve seen for a quite a while. They do almost everything they can to get a bite of something, and the gore is abundant. It’s nice to see an “R” rated flick in this sub-genre again since the majority of them are made for the SyFy Channel. It doesn’t pull any punches and I was very thankful for that. While it is nowhere as amazing as Jaws, or even Jaws 2 for the matter, this is head and shoulders above 90% of the crap floating around out there in the sea of bullshit shark flicks. While it certainly doesn’t break any new ground, it certainly is watchable in all the best ways.
When Bait ended I had a smile on my face. The action was great, the characters were likable, the violence was spectacularly in your face and it was fun and mildly scary. I just wish I had a chance to see it in 3D. I’m sure I would have gasped a few times. Guaranteed.
I highly recommend this flick if you want to see a shark attack flick done right.
3.5 out of 5