Paul Walker died in a car accident November 30th. He was just 40 years old. I was and is a huge fan of Walker -- mostly because of the F and F movies -- but I realized I hadn't seen many other movies he was in. Let's try and switch that, starting with 2005's Into the Blue.
Living in the Bahamas, Jared (Walker) is a bit of a beach bum, doing odd jobs and living with his girlfriend, Sam (Jessica Alba). He moves from job to job, living out of a little trailer and working on his beaten-up old boat, hoping to one day find some sunken treasure that will provide for himself and Sam for the rest of their lives. After losing a scuba diving job, Jared gets a visit from his old friend, Bryce (Scott Caan), and his recent babely pick-up/hook-up, Amanda (Ashley Scott), the quartet partying it up at an immense villa Bryce's firm has taken control of. While partying out on a yacht and scuba-diving, Jared lucks upon a huge find waiting for him on the ocean floor, the long lost remains of a shipwreck that has grown to mythical proportions over the years. Now, they just need some money and equipment to lay claim to the treasure, but there's one more problem. Not far from the wreck, they find a crashed plane with dead bodies inside and more dangerously, hundreds of kilos of cocaine. What to do? What to do?
While I thought this John Stockwell-directed film looked interesting when it first came out, I never sought it out. Over recent years, I even watched a movie from the 1970s, The Deep, that looked like 'Blue' tried to duplicate almost to a T. But soon after Walker's sudden passing in November, it popped up on MGM-HD, giving me a chance to catch up with it. What's the appeal? Well, for starters just look at the poster up above. It's pretty people being pretty having crazy adventures in beautiful, exotic places. Do you really need anything else? This isn't a movie that's going to strain any brain cells while watching. Clocking in at 110 minutes, it's an exciting, action-packed story with some twists along the way that keep in interesting. Sit back with some popcorn and enjoy it, just don't overthink it.
Let's face it. Paul Walker is a good-looking guy. This was a movie made for his fans who like him for his....physical talents? Like the entire cast, Walker spends much of the movie in board shorts, swimming around and generally being dreamy. More importantly though, he does what he does best. Walker was an underrated action star, more than capable of handling his own in any number of action sequences. It sure looks like he's doing most of his own stunts, on land and underwater, giving a sense of authenticity to the action (more on that later). On top of that, I also liked Walker's Jared character. If it sounds simple, so be it, but he's a good guy who has a good life if not a glamorous one. When he's presented with a chance to provide for the rest of his life, he's conflicted on what to do, knowing that those crashed drugs he finds were meant to be somewhere and someone is going to come looking for them. An underrated actor with the right script/character, Walker does a strong job leading the way in this Bahama adventure.
The rest of the cast is more hit or miss. Alba was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Actress, but I won't go that far. I thought she did a good job at Walker's side, basically the perfect girl....well, ever. Her Sam is the most conflicted morally about what they should do, the $ only blinding her momentarily. While I normally like Scott Caan, this isn't a great part for him, his Bryce beyond annoying and beyond stupid, making one stupid decision after another. The same for Ashley Scott who seems to be around as eye candy and little else. Because he was originally typecast as a villain, Josh Brolin is the villain, Bates, a boat owner with a huge reputation, and some tricks up his sleeve. There's plenty of other villains around including James Frain as Reyes, the slimy drug dealer, Tyson Beckford as Primo, a Bahamian thug who rocks a mohawk so you know he's a bad guy, Dwayne Adway as Roy, a Bahamian cop who may be pitting all sides against each other.
You wouldn't know from watching, but this PG-13 flick sure seems more like an R-rated flick. The action isn't graphic, but it sure is brutal. As the twisting story throws one nasty bad guy at Jared and Co. after another, the story takes a particularly brutal road to the finish. Let's just say John Stockwell's film has some interesting ways to dispose of some villains. It does get a little silly toward the end, but it's never dull so I'll give credit where it's due. At a most basic level, this is about showing scantily clad individuals -- male and female -- cavorting around the Bahamas.
Seriously, if you muted this movie, you may think it's a porno. The camera lingers a whole lot (and in slow motion) on Jessica Alba and Ashley Scott, and to a lesser degree Paul Walker and Scott Caan. That's what is worth mentioning. It's an easily digestable, fun, action-packed movie with some truly stupid characters in their swimsuits making some truly stupid decisions. How can you wrong?
Into the Blue (2005): ** 1/2 /****