Into the Blue is a mainstream action movie with plenty of skin, chiseled abs, curvaceous bods and four-letter words—and yet it includes an unusually moral center for the genre. Jared (Paul Walker) is a dive bum who dreams of finding sunken treasure in the wreck-littered waters of the Bahamas. He scrapes up a living as a dive instructor for sunburned tourists and resides with his girlfriend Sam (Jessica Alba) in a beachside trailer. In his spare time he tries in vain to patch up a ramshackle wreck of a boat that he hopes will carry him to the mother lode. He's long on enthusiasm but woefully strapped for investment capital.

Off we go, into the blue, wild yonder

Off we go, into the blue, wild yonder

Jared's friend Bryce, played by Walker's real-life pal Scott Caan, shows up with a new girlfriend in tow. He's known Amanda (Ashley Scott) for nearly a day and plans a foursome adventure vacation. The contrast between the two couples couldn't be more pronounced. Bryce is vulgar and selfish, while Jared is devoted to Sam and the two of them place love—even if it does include premarital sex—high above money. They hope to find buried treasure some day, but in the meanwhile they enjoy a life of sun, water and deep friendship.

Bryce likes the idea of finding buried treasure, but he's mainly out for a good time with Amanda, who is as shallow as Bryce. They enjoy a relationship free of any sense of commitment, living for each day without thinking any further. Bryce is a profane man, a lawyer who makes his living defending drug kingpins and other high-profile criminals. Amanda is a party girl who likes to sunbathe, swim and drink—with Bryce as her convenient partner and meal ticket. While Bryce and Amanda swill Scotch, Sam sits demurely on the sidelines as Jared nurses a beer.

Into the Blue highlights the sport of freediving, which is gaining in popularity over scuba. The freediver drops from the surface and glides through the water without the encumbrances of tanks and weight belts. And for this film, that means the viewer sees plenty of these young hardbodies as they float through the spectacularly beautiful Caribbean waters. The camera especially focuses on Alba, whose underwater swimming style is a mixture of dolphin and exotic dancer—certain titillation for many male viewers. And while Alba is graceful in the water and powerful in the action scenes, her acting is unpolished and immature. At times her lines are flat.

Paul Walker and Jessica Alba

Paul Walker and Jessica Alba

Too bad the filmmakers erred on the side of eye-candy here, because Alba is a powerful swimmer and, according to her co-stars, could hold her breath the longest. If you look beyond the beauty, she's a bit of a tomboy, stepping up in most of the fight scenes.

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Walker, in his best role so far, also brings a sense of grace and athletic prowess, but he has matured as an actor. Into the Blue gives him much more to work with than his previous hits like Varsity Blues and The Fast and the Furious. Jared is a decent, hardworking guy who enjoys his youthful freedom. He dreams of sunken treasure, but is willing to work for it. And although he shares a trailer with his girlfriend, Jared shows some moral restraint in other situations.

His decency is tested when the foursome, while diving a shallow reef, come upon a sunken DC-3, where they find a king's ransom in cocaine—bricks and bricks of it sealed in watertight packages. Bryce and Amanda have an immediate plan: sell the drugs and become fantastically rich overnight. But Sam, who understands that both the Bahamian police and the drug smugglers play hardball, wants none of it. Taking the drugs is a sure way to end up dead or in jail. She's all for dialing 911 and getting far away. Jared is also wary of the entanglements of drug dealing but his objections are primarily moral. It's dirty money, a fast way to wealth on the backs of drug addicts. He's young and optimistic and he has no trouble imagining a bright future without taking moral shortcuts.

My abs are better than your abs, even when we're skimming across the water'

My abs are better than your abs, even when we're skimming across the water'

But there is a snag. Right next to the wrecked drug plane they find a few scattered artifacts that just might be an even bigger treasure: a sunken pirate galleon rumored to have gone down laden with Spanish gold. If they tell the authorities about the drug plane the whole area becomes a crime scene. Salvaging a wreck requires secrecy. To stake a claim they must find proof that it is a specific wreck, and that takes time and stealth—all while the waters are crawling with unscrupulous claim jumpers. This is a fairly realistic scenario; historical records list nearly 500 wrecks from the era of Spanish galleons. The trick is finding them, but recent storms have disturbed the sands and that's when new discoveries are made—leading to the big break that Jared and Sam have been looking for.

At this point bottom feeders like Bryce and Amanda might be expected to go ahead and haul up the drugs, but Jared and Sam prevail. If they find the wreck's gold, they will make billions of dollars. They will also be clear of cops and criminals. Bryce and Amanda reluctantly go along, but they are always angling for a way to keep the drugs while uncovering the treasure.

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We get through most of Into the Blue without falling back on action movie clichés like martial arts and cool weapons. Alas, in the end we see guns, spear guns and bang-sticks galore. A fish gaff makes an appearance. There's little blood, though, and the action is less than explicit.

Hey, everybody! I think I found a treasure!'

Hey, everybody! I think I found a treasure!'

The ending makes us realize that we've been watching a man's struggle to live honestly while being tempted with easy money. Walker's Jared is an everyman. He's not brilliant, but he's certainly not dumb. He's a chiseled athlete, but he's no warrior.

All this is wrapped up in a lot of beauty, both natural and contrived. The scenes of the divers gliding among the sharks, rays and fish are almost surreal, and the skimpy bikinis make it a look like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit video.

Most filmmakers shy away from using water, animals or kids because they are just too unpredictable. There are no kids in this film, but plenty of water and animals—wild sharks, including a few man-eating tigers. Naturally, since this is a movie, the laws of physics, gravity and hydrodynamics are occasionally suspended. But overall, Into the Blue is an unpretentious film that delivers more than the trailers might suggest.

Talk About It

Discussion starters
  1. What drives the different characters' responses to the promise of easy drug money?

  2. When have you been faced with a similar choice—the easy way, vs. the "right" way? Which way did you choose? What would you have gained and/or lost had you gone for the easy choice?

  3. Why does a decent guy like Jared have such a close friendship with Bryce? Do you have friends like that? How do you act around those friends?

  4. How would you describe what keeps the two couples, Jared and Sam, and Bryce and Amanda, together?

  5. How might Jared and Sam's relationship, and the way they make choices, be different if they were married to one another?

The Family Corner

For parents to consider

Into the Blue is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence, drug material, some sexual content and language. The violence in Into the Blue is mostly non-explicit. Drugs feature in the plot but there is no explicit drug use. Amanda appears topless in a side-shot; we don't see frontal nudity. The film shows a lot of skin, though no outright nudity. It's quite sensual in parts—along the lines of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and videos—making it a potentially arousing film for many male viewers. There is also quite a bit of profanity, including two f-bombs and a number of uses of God's name in vain. Interestingly, main characters Jared and Sam use more restrained language than the other characters.

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What Other Critics Are Saying
compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet

from Film Forum, 09/29/05

There's more to Into the Blue than Jessica Alba in a bikini. But perhaps not much more.

Manohla Dargis of The New York Times writes: "Aficionados of cheap cinematic thrills involving beautiful and stupid young people will be happy to learn that while the film fizzles far more than it sizzles, its director, John Stockwell, is a connoisseur of the female backside, which he displays to great and frequent advantage."

What do Christian film critics have to say about this?

Adam R. Holz (Plugged In) says that the movie "exceeded my admittedly modest expectations." But he concludes, "The filmmakers' infatuation with Jessica's curves, combined with a boatload of profanity and grisly images, make plunging into the deep waters of Into the Blue a chilly proposition."

Mainstream critics want to drown the film.

Into the Blue
Our Rating
3 Stars - Good
Average Rating
(not rated yet)ADD YOURSHelp
Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (for intense sequences of action violence, drug material, some sexual content and language)
Directed By
John Stockwell
Run Time
1 hour 50 minutes
Paul Walker, Jessica Alba, Scott Caan
Theatre Release
September 30, 2005 by Columbia Pictures
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