1. Cell phones that work on secluded Mexican beaches.
2. Futuristic FaceTime Technology to tell the story of Blake Lively's dead mom, uptight dad, baby sister and her lamentable decision to drop out of med school
3. Blake Lively's underwater collision with a seagull that she eventually names "Steven Seagull."
4. Blake Lively eating a small crab and then vomiting it up.
5. Steven Seagull eating said vomit.
Blake Lively plays Nancy, a young Texas woman dealing with the loss of her mother by catching bitchin' waves on the secret Mexican beach her mom frequented while pregnant with her. We see evidence of this in yellowed Polaroids, all marked *1992,* the year I was still doing The Running Man to Father MC's 'I'll Do 4 You' and 'Real Love' by Mary J Blige. Nancy doesn't speak Spanish and her vacation buddy has stood her up to go have sex somewhere. She's caught a ride to the beach from a kindly man; when he asks her how she'll get back to the hotel, she answers, "Uber."
She meets a couple of locals and out-surfs them in a big fake feminist montage in which the locals admire her and call her pet names that call attention to how white she is because I guess the audience can't tell with their own eyes that Blake Lively is whiter than a bleached asshole. They offer her a ride home and she declines, opting instead to catch the dreaded "last wave." She dicks around for a while and then catches sight of the massive carcass of a Humpback whale, which, for some reason she wasn't alerted to prior by the stench or the cloud of screeching birds. She paddles over to check it out and gets taken under by a wave, getting crashed and scraped into the coral below. That's another hilarious thing about this movie- Nancy is constantly taken down by smaller, peripheral injuries like coral and birds and rocks and jellyfish. This reef is to Nancy as a firework and dildo factory might be to Inspector Clouseau.
This is a good time to mention the absolutely massive size of this shark in contrast with Nancy's thigh injury. Now, I'm no Richard Dreyfuss- in fact, his lawyers have insisted that I stop claiming to be on loan and mortgage applications- but I feel comfortable saying that a shark that's more than half the size of a Humpback whale would inflict a wound you couldn't patch up with your shit from Claire's.
After a danger fraught night, Nancy notices an obese local drunk man passed out on the beach, because of course, and screams to him until he's roused enough to steal the wallet and Iphone from her backpack. She screams some more as he ventures out into the water to purloin her surfboard and is almost immediately bitten in half and spat back on shore, where his torso scrapes forward pathetically for a while, presumably looking for more to steal. Nancy's two local surfer friends return for the day and she screams at them and waves her arms as they're both killed. And in this scenario lies one of the reasons why The Shallows is an entertaining movie: the antagonist is just kind of a dick. Late in the film, Nancy posits into the GoPro of a dead surfer that the shark is terrorizing her because she wandered into it's feeding ground, but by this time the audience knows that that shark doesn't give a buttery fuck about eating. Or else maybe it would EAT THE WHALE. Or the fat man on the beach. Or the two grown men it killed within seconds of one another. No, this movie expects us to believe that the shark took an exploratory bite out of Nancy and tasted something more intriguing than quinoa and BluePrint Cleanse. Also that a white woman traveling accompanied in Mexico with family at home who are already worried about her would go 48 hours missing without a search party being called, but that's another story.
If I may self-servingly wrap this up and tie it off, when I was researching (LOL FOREVER) The Shallows, I found a lot of sources trying to categorize it as a *feminist movie,* which is....no. It certainly represents a type of woman- tall, blonde, thin, white, pre-med- and it's a cool, fun-ass movie in which all the characters who aren't Nancy are only the faintest of silhouettes, but you know, I guess the message could be 'hey, I overcame the death of my mother and being a hot-ass genius to eventually outsmart and kill a shark. The difference between this movie and Rudy is that a coach implored my stepsons to see Rudy, and to come away with the bigger picture, how to live one's life and never give up, *the movie itself* implores you to say that, which is in direct contrast to The Shallows, which seems to demand "WERE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED BY THE BUTTCRACK AND FLAMING SHARKS?" Which, to me, is more honest. No one should base their life on a movie that isn't The Thing starring Kurt Russell, anyway, right? Right.