Open Water 2: Adrift
Some films are sent to test us and when I saw Open Water (2003) I had found one such film. Having a group of people stranded at sea for the duration of a film is a difficult theme to maintain any interest with, though Reef (2010) wasn’t too bad. Along came Adrift to offer another test so Mrs B and I found our sea legs and summoned enough courage to face a sort of sequel to Open Water.
The film focuses on a group of friends from high school – couple Amy (Susan May Pratt) and James (Richard Speight Jr) who bring along their baby Sarah, Zach (Niklaus Lange) and Lauren (Ali Hillis), and Dan (Eric Dane) and his latest girlfriend Michelle (Cameron Richardson). Dan has planned a weekend away on his yacht, which is actually owned by his boss but he pretends to be rich and successful in front of his friends. After stopping in the middle of the ocean James, Zach, Lauren and Michelle head into the water leaving Dan, Amy and baby Sarah on board. Lamenting the high school days when he was in love with Amy, Dan quickly switches from a serious chat to a bit of a prank. He lifts Amy into his arms and jumps off the yacht with her, not taking into consideration her reluctance to go into the water, a childhood fear brought about by the loss of her father. Only when everyone is in the ocean do they realise they have forgotten to put the ladder down and are now unable to climb back onto the yacht. With baby Sarah crying for her mother, the group are faced with a desperate struggle for survival out in the open water!
The film was only labelled Open Water 2 to cash in on the original which was somehow a box office success though I’m losing sleep trying to figure out how! Adrift addresses a very ludicrous concept what with this group of friends all going for a swim and not one querying how and where they get back on board once they’ve had enough of swimming. Dan not owning the yacht is cited as the reason he gets a bit forgetful when it comes to letting the ladder down but even then he declines to ask Amy why she doesn’t want to swim and why she wears a life vest even though she’s safely on board the yacht. Instead Dan assumes it will be funny to force Amy into the water and very soon he regrets his actions as the group can find no means of getting back on the yacht. While Amy has a very handy life vest, the rest of the group are left to share two diving masks, a knife and a dolphin float. As the full horror of their predicament takes hold the group begin to turn on each other.
I’d known the premise to Adrift long before seeing the film and thought it sounded ridiculous. The film did nothing to change that initial perception I have to say. Our friends try many devious solutions to getting out of their predicament such as stabbing the side of the yacht to create a makeshift handhold only for Dan to scupper the plans, wanting to keep the yacht in good shape before he returns it to his boss! Nice to know he has his priorities right! Another plan is for the friends to remove their clothes and tie them together to form a rope of sorts. After managing to secure the clothes around a handrail on the yacht the friends opt to allow Dan to try and make the ascension rather than one of the three women who are clearly lighter than the men. The plan doesn’t work of course and with options running out things become desperate. With a knife being shared amongst the group blood is eventually shed when James has to dive down to retrieve the knife but once he grabs it he is quite deep down and in need of air. Swimming frantically for the surface James smacks his head against the yacht and is left with a fractured skull, which is bad enough but the group end up destroying the dolphin float as well leaving Amy as the only one not having to tread water!
Adrift suffers in many areas. Once again we have a group of characters who are not remotely interesting. Amy has a chilling past which explains her fear of water but other than that there isn’t much to these characters. Despite blood being in the water there are no sharks in this film unlike Open Water and Reef so the only harm that can come to these friends is from themselves. Incidentally, they’re all surprisingly fit and healthy, managing to tread water for many hours without having to rest very often. Personally, I still couldn’t see why the group couldn’t stand one person on another’s shoulders and push them up the yacht but I’m not paid to write scripts so I’ll not take that point any further. Much has been made of the film’s ambiguous ending and though Mrs B and I devoted perhaps two minutes of discussion to what the hell it all means, we’d soon moved onto better things. Reef is still by far the best of these stranded at sea films I’ve watched in recent years and even that wasn’t astounding. If you want a thriller that takes place in the remote sea then head back in time to watch Dead Calm (1989).
Adrift is a very poor attempt at a survival drama, offering us a group of less than absorbing characters without one brain cell between them and a very silly plot. I’m not an expert on yachts but surely a ladder built on the side of the vessel would prevent such incidents as depicted in this film. That’s a debate for another time. As for this debate there’s nothing to discuss: this film is utterly awful.
(Film source: reviewer’s own copy)