Friday, April 10, 2015

Short Attention Span Review: Bait (2012)

Bait is just your average "great white sharks terrorize shoppers at the grocery store" movie, and while that particular sub-genre is overpopulated, this one manages to stand out.  Okay, so just to be clear, I am kidding about there being more than one of these absurdities, but I'm not kidding about Bait being a movie about people being terrorized by great white sharks at the grocery store.  Despite this ludicrous premise and an opening that is 100% terrible, the movie somehow works.  First off, the opening is awful.  I'm still not quite sure why I didn't turn Bait off after that bullshit, but I'm glad I didn't.  The picture that follows is gleefully idiotic, but it is also ferociously entertaining.  And after that opening convinced me that the special effects would be inferior to the great white carnage I used to enjoy while playing Jaws on my NES as a child, the rest of the movie benefits from superior effects work.  {Clarification: the term "superior effects work" as used in the previous statement applies to the effects seen in the opening reel of Bait as opposed to special effects in general.}  So, how did the sharks wind up in the grocery store?  See, the store was flooded during a tsunami, and as is so often the case when tsunamis occur, a pair of large great whites wind up trapped in the flooded supermarket.  Now, in addition to the presence of a pair of bloodthirsty sharks, there are number of interesting characters involved in various situations that could yield entire movies of their own stuck in the flooded store.  Among them are a brokenhearted dude and his former flame (I shit you not, their romance fell apart after he failed to save her brother from a shark attack in that totally inept opening scene), a sympathetic robber and his sadistic accomplice, a cop summoned to arrest a shoplifter who just so happens to be his daughter, and so on and so forth.  Truthfully, Bait should sink like a stone under the weight of the absurd premise and all the ridiculous contrivances that spring up throughout its 93 minute running time.  Yet it somehow gets the job done.  It's fun to watch and you will actually wind up liking some of these ridiculous characters and pulling for them as they struggle to survive in these ridiculous circumstances.  Julian McMahon (a guy who should have become a legitimate star and instead pulled hard time on Charmed and received third billing in Bait) does a great job as the sympathetic robber and deserves a lot of the credit for grounding this ludicrous yarn.  Kimble Rendall deserves some praise for holding this thing together as a director, and given how it turned out, I'm almost willing to pardon him for that opening.  Russell Mulcahy, the guy who gave us Highlander and Razorback (What? I like Razorback) helped out with the script.  I'm feeling generous, so I'll even point out that the effects team that totally shit the bed in the first ten minutes of the movie held it down when it mattered most.  In the end, I'm not sure how it happened, but in this silly movie with a woeful beginning wound up being an entertaining ride that I'm going to recommend.  I might even give it a "B." 

Final Grade: B-

It's hard to determine if it's the realism or the subtlety that make Bait so entertaining.

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