Ten years after the moment that was so much bigger than her, Halle Berry decided to star in a movie called Dark Tide in which she plays a Shark Whisperer. Yes. A Shark Whisperer. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking of Robert Redford’s Horse Whisperer and, thus, you’re thinking of Halle Berry substituting the western shirts and cowboys boots for bikinis and flip-flops and speaking in endless platitudes (“To swim with the shark, you have to think like the shark”). And you’d be right, save for one difference. Redford’s Horse Whisperer had one platitude that was crucial: “Truth is, I help horses with people problems.” This, at least, was a crystal clear explanation of his motivations. On other hand, why the hell is Halle Berry’s character whispering sharks?
This is never really explained. Like, at all. Her Kate Mathieson clearly loves sharks and, hey, that’s swell but she seems to have no motivation for being a Shark Whisperer outside of the fact that she needs to be one so other movie characters can get chewed up real good by sharks run amok. Like, say, one of her closest colleagues who gets eaten in an opening scene that fails to heed the lesson Steven Spielberg accidentally imparted to great effect in Jaws – less is more. This death puts Kate out of the Shark Whispering game and into the Whale Watching game but her business venture is going belly up and the bank is threatening to take her precious boat.
Enter her ex-colleague and boyfriend, the disappointingly named Jeff (Olivier Martinez) with a proposal – that is, exorbitantly rich businessman Brady (Ralph Brown) knows Kate as the only woman in the world – “legend of the deep” – who can swim with sharks outside of the cage. He wants to swim with sharks outside of the cage, too. She agrees to take him into the water but only if he stays in the cage. Jeff secretly promises Brady he will talk Kate into letting him out of the cage once they are on the water. Thus, to the high seas they go.
Brady, a “10 out of 10 prick” who has had seven kids with three women and knows James Cameron (no! really!), including a son (Luke Tyler) he has brought along for the voyage, is, much like Kate, sans motivation. He seems to yearn to swim with sharks outside of the cage for no other reason than to put himself, his son and everyone else in harm’s way. He’s a crazy old codger, sure, but that’s sadly opaque for a movie that should have been aiming to be Road House On The Ocean. Brady is a little like Bill Paxton’s cocky millionaire in the mountain climbing extravaganza The Vertical Limit except even Paxton had a stated reason for wanting to be suicidal and push on through to the peak despite incoming inclement weather. If it was revealed that Brady was paying significant money to swim with sharks outside the cage solely as a means to re-connect with his son, well, it would have been horrible, but it would have been something. Alas.
So they get out on the water and Brady gets in the cage and then Brady gets out of the cage and Kate reprimands him and Brady tells her Jeff was going to talk her into letting him out of the cage and at this Kate goes ballistic, getting hydrogen psychosis (“crazy eyes”) and says to Brady – actually says out loud – “Let’s see how big it is!” Yes, Kate! Let’s! And so she makes a decision entirely unsuited to the character as presented and decides to send them roaring off into “shark alley” specifically to put a cage-less Brady into the watery feeding ground in the apparent hope of teaching this yahoo a lesson by getting him killed (which seems like it could be considered murder but, you know, tomato/tomahto). It is the film’s low point by which I mean it is the film’s high point, the one insanity filled moment that truly makes you sit up and shout “Yeah, Halle Berry! Show him what time it is!”
A squall, as it must, rears its ugly head and the last remaining boathand turns the wheel over to Brady’s son who has never driven a boat before in his life and predictably the boat capsizes and then it’s a free for all – Human vs. Shark. Certain people and certain people die, though it’s somewhat difficult to tell until survivors emerge at the end because this entire sequence is filmed in darkness so omnipresent it is difficult to have any idea what is happening. Not that I cared by that point. This whole ship of fools needed to be devoured.