‘Under Paris’ Review: They Should Have Called Jason Statham

‘Under Paris’ Review: They Should Have Called Jason Statham

Under Paris is either phenomenal timing or Netflix seeing an opportunity to release an out-of-pocket shark movie just as Paris is about to host the Summer Olympics. Because the entire film had an undercurrent of an inside joke meant to poke fun at the failed infrastructure that is the upcoming Olympics. From the Olympic pool that is leaking to incomplete metro expansions, Paris is not ready for millions of people to descend on their city. But what makes the situation even worse for Paris as a whole, and why I find Under Paris so ridiculous, is the fact that the Olympic committee has been trying to clean up the Seine so Olympic swimmers can compete in it. It’s not going well at the moment, the river looking just as bad as the Hudson in New York City. And now we’ve got the ridiculous worry/thought in our heads that sharks are something they should worry about too. And it’s thanks to Under Paris.

Throughout the movie there is a blatant disregard for human life because the Parisian government would rather make money instead of admitting that they messed up. They ignore the multitude of people who have died and a scientist who knows what she’s talking about, because they don’t want to even think of a situation that could make them look bad. It touched so close to home that I kept asking myself if this was really happening. It was. The only huge difference was that there was a mako shark who had mutated for some reason to almost 20 ft in size, as if it were a great white shark. Oh and she doesn’t need any man. She’s in Paris to have a good time and have a bunch of offspring in the catacombs. And with the humans acting the way that they were, it was easy to cheer for Lilith the shark to demolish all of them.

Most of the time I want the shark to win in shark movies because I’m an agent of chaos. Plus the humans have messed up this world so much to the point where a giant floating wall of trash is just out there in the ocean and microplastics are apparently now in fish we eat. But while watching Under Paris I actively cheered for the demise of the lead Sophia and for Jason Statham to just step in and take care of this mess. Because Sophia was kind of useless. She pushed her husband to poke a giant mutated shark because she needed the samples. She also told, correction, demanded the police officer Adil to jump into shark infested waters to save an activist who was giving, “I watched one YouTube video about the ocean and activism and I know better than you.” She knew so much that she ended up being shark bait.

The more that I watched, the more I wanted to take the supporting characters and protect them from the stupidity that was Sophia and that activist whose name I don’t even remember. Because Sophia confronted the shark once in the beginning and spent the rest of the movie looking sad and giving us a one dimensional portrayal of her grief. And the activist did nothing but put other lives in danger and act like she’s Katniss Everdeen going against President Snow. Sharks are important. But it’s not “save the shark, save the world.” And I’m still on the fence if Under Paris was really serious with its message of saving the environment and protecting wildlife. Because this wasn’t Hayao Miyazaki with his intricately built worlds that act as social commentary. It was a shark movie. And because I didn’t know if they were really serious about this environment message, Under Paris felt muddled as a story.

Under Paris would have done better as a shark film if it picked a lane. It was pretending to be a story about grief and then one about ignorant governments and then another story about how humans endanger wildlife. What it should have done from the start was lean into the shark aspect of it all. Because that’s where it shined. For example, I loved the scene of all of the sharks circling in the catacombs like a giant hive. Same thing goes for when Lilith escaped the catacombs explosion and she was dragging along the net in a scene that was very reminiscent of the horror that I felt while watching classics like Deep Blue Sea or Jaws. I especially liked it as well when things turned Fast & Furious with the live rounds in the Seine causing a cataclysmic chain reaction set to Lilith swimming for her life and me cheering her on.

I will give Under Paris this though: I didn’t expect that ending. I’m used to a Hollywood that puts a little bow on things and acts like everything ended up okay. That didn’t happen this time. They subverted expectations and made me pause in contemplation, something that doesn’t happen often. Paris ended up destroyed by its own hubris and Lilith and her offspring lived to see another day while swimming through the streets of Paris and the metro. Oh there’s also the fact that Adil survived, even though his story of grief was just as flat as Sophie’s and didn’t serve the story at all. I just thought he A) really handsome and B) one of those supporting characters that didn’t have to pay the price for someone’s stupidity and hubris. As for what comes next after this ending, I’d be down for a sequel. Keep Paris under water, sprinkle a little bit of the sharks being smart, and bring back the baddie that is Lilith.

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