Director Jaume Collet-Serra and cinematographer Flavio Martinez Labiano put Blake Lively (here making her bid to be the next Kill Bill-era Uma Thurman in terms of limb length, visage resolution, and pain management) through her paces (strokes?) as a woman who decides to mourn the loss of her mother by going back to the Mexican beach where Mom went after learning she was pregnant. (There’s even an island that reminds her of a pregnant woman lying on her back — head, breasts, and belly rising from the sea.) Though her surf buddy has remained behind, she braves the waves, even as night comes on (thanks to an upsetting phone chat with Dad, during which she wonders why Mom bothered fighting so hard to stay alive). Then she drifts up to a whale carcass, and also, the great big shark that has been munching on it. The progression from personal drama to surf film to (wo)man vs. nature story to full-on creature feature is smooth, even expert, and always managed with handsome panache. It’s true that the camera’s eye substitutes rather improbably for Lively’s in places, but a girl needs all the help she can get when it’s just her, a shark, and a wounded, highly symbolic seagull. (2016) — Matthew Lickona
This movie is not currently in theaters.