Shark In Venice

Shark In Venice


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Wouldn't the The Da Vinci Code have been more fun if it had sharks in it? That's the basic premise of this fishy thriller, which sees a man searching for his missing father gradually caught up in a hunt for Medici treasure said to be lost somewhere in the Venice canals. It also tries to imitate Indiana Jones but misfires badly by relying on a charisma-free Baldwin, surely the worst bit of casting since Mark Wahlberg was passed off as a science teacher in The Happening. At least his character's girlfriend, played by Vanessa Johansson, is equally dull, so they make sense as a couple. She also fulfils her good girl role by getting kidnapped at the earliest opportunity, as mafia bad guys try to force the Baldwin to lead them to the hidden hoard. Inexplicably, they try to kill him several times along the way, but this is not a film for those who worry about logic.

It's a film for those who like to watch ridiculous shark attacks, and whilst it doesn't deliver nearly enough of these to compete with the likes of Mega Shark Vs Crocosaurus or Sharktopus, its heart is in the right place. The munching of gondolas and troubled lovers are the best bits. The attacks on divers are rather lacklustre but there's compensation in the entertaining way they've been assembled, with stock footage accidentally making the polluted canals look like they're teeming with tropical fish, and bit part actors hurling themselves towards a rubber shark that can't quite reach them. At one point the sharks appear to chew a limb off the Baldwin but, like a kids' cartoon hero, he's fine in the next scene.

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The Baldwin appears to be blissfully unaware of the kind of film he's in. Fortunately, Giacomo Gonnella is not, and cheerfully hams it up as the human villain whose evil plans are so deeply flawed that one wonders if he's one of those idiot mafia heirs whose godfathers find it best just to gift with enough rope. He's using the sharks as 'guard dogs' but seems surprised when they eat his own minions. Despite their frequent snacking, nobody even raises the question of what to do about the sharks; officialdom, of course, want to hush it up to avoid deterring tourists.

Whilst Venice is always pretty, we see so little of it here that it could easily be the product of a single weekend's frantic shooting, padded out with work filmed elsewhere. Footage of things like boats passing under bridges is re-used again and again, creating the atmosphere of a Seventies cop show. The final showdown takes place in the obligatory action movie giant warehouse, with Johansson wandering around vacantly in the middle of a gun battle between characters we don't seem to have met before.

Overall, Shark In Venice fails to live up to its snappy title but it's just awful enough for a certain kind of film fan to find it delightful.

Reviewed on: 24 Jul 2013
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A man searching for his missing father clashes with a man searching for treasure as killer sharks cruise the canals of Venice.
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Director: Danny Lerner

Writer: Danny Lerner, Les Weldon

Starring: Stephen Baldwin, Vanessa Johansson, Hilda van der Meulen, Giacomo Gonnella

Year: 2008

Runtime: 88 minutes

Country: US


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