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Home > “Under Paris” (2024): A Review

“Under Paris” (2024): A Review

“Under Paris” (2024): A Review

This Film Should’ve Stayed Under!

The only thing scarier than bumping into a shark while out for a swim is bumping into a Parisian shark. Oui oui! Swimmers best stay out of the water unless they can properly pronounce croissant! Jokes aside, Under Paris follows one of nature’s most adaptable predators when it manages to end up in the Seine River. As numerous Parisians fall prey to the shark’s endless bloodlust, a researcher and a police officer must team up in order to bring this man-eater down for good. Directed by Xavier Gens, the film stars Bérénice Bejo and Nassim Lyes as the two leads. The film was released for streaming on Netflix on June 05, 2024.

Predictable

Try to imagine the most generic plot to a movie involving sharks, and the end result will probably look like Under Paris. The film’s plot is so generic that it feels that viewers will undoubtedly be able to predict every single major event to a T. Viewers will have no trouble predicting character deaths the minute they are introduced. From top to bottom, the film feels like something to watch while the viewer turns their brain off. If the film were more self-aware, these issues might not be so bad. The problem is that the film does take itself seriously and expects the viewer to do the same.

While the film certainly has a message it’s trying to spread, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what that message is. It definitely has something to do with environmentalism…maybe? The film starts off in the ocean on the “seventh continent,” which is an endless sea of trash and plastics. There are a couple of powerful shots here, especially with a dead whale caught in a net.  So, naturally, it would be safe for viewers to assume that the central message of the film would be about the evils of pollution. The setting for most of the film, however, is the Seine River, which has recently experienced a major clean-up effort due to a planned triathlon. On a side note, there’s never a proper or satisfying explanation as to why events are unfolding the way that they are. For some reason, they keep coming back to a shark’s ability to adapt, which feels like a total cop out. For example, the big bad shark in question is huge and in one scene even gets shot at with assault rifles. These bullets make contact but somehow the shark is unaffected? In an earlier scene, another shark is shot with a pistol and ends up dead in the next scene. 

Insufferable Personified

Nearly every single character in this film is either forgettable or insufferable, starting with the most insufferable character in the whole film, which is an environmental activist. When first introduced, it’s apparent that this character initially idolizes the protagonist, who is an expert on sharks. Only a couple scenes later, those rose-tinted glasses are suddenly gone, with the activist suddenly thinking that she knows better than an actual shark expert. This character comes off as so arrogant and unlikable that the second she’s introduced, viewers will likely stay tuned just in hopes of seeing her meet a horrible end. To be fair, characters like these can be necessary in order to keep the audience invested. The problem is that if the other characters aren’t also able to keep the viewer’s attention or stand out in their own way, then the audience will likely lose interest when the character they hate eventually bites the dust.

Aside from one or two characters that stand out due to how insufferable they are, a majority of the characters are largely forgettable. While the acting isn’t that bad, it’s certainly not helped by the abysmal writing, which does these characters no justice.The secondary lead, played by Nassim Lyes, for example, is a police officer. His squad is supposedly tight knit; however, it’s easy to forget the rest of his squad, as they don’t really stand out. No one beside Nassim’s character is really emphasized. Of course, there are some scenes involving banter, but that’s not enough to develop the squad as their own characters. This is a shame, as the backstory for Nassim’s character is revealed later on, which kind of puts his character into perspective. The revelation of his backstory, however, would’ve had more impact had they properly developed the rest of his squad. In fact, a couple of his squadmates remain unnamed for the rest of the film. They might show a squadmate about to be eaten by a shark, and the audience will be too distracted with trying to remember that character’s name to notice.

Computer-Generated Gore

Surprisingly, this film actually works as a horror piece. While it obviously has nothing on the likes of Jaws or even Deep Blue Sea, there are still plenty of heart-stopping shots in Under Paris. There are a few shots throughout the film where viewers can catch a shark fin cheekily sneaking by. Anytime a character enters the water, there’s a palpable sense of dread, with the audience wondering whether or not the shark is indeed nearby. The gore and death scenes are also satisfying to watch. From limbs being torn off to someone literally being ripped in half, this kind of gore should be mandatory for any and every shark film, including the documentaries. These scenes are the main payoff of the film. Forget the character development and plot, watching a bunch of eco-activists get torn to shreds will satisfy anyone’s blood lust.

The CGI in this film is… serviceable. Of course, it would be impossible to use an actual shark in the film, but the film definitely goes overboard at times. Obviously, in order to get those crazy scenes where people are getting ripped to shreds, a decent amount of CGI and special effects is required. That being said, couldn’t there have been at least a couple of scenes involving actual sharks? Even a ten second clip of some sharks just chilling around in the ocean could’ve worked. While this is more of a general complaint of the shark films as a whole, it certainly feels like something is missing when 90% of the sharks seen on screen are just CGI.

End Result

It’s hard to put Under Paris in any one box. It’s not smart enough to be put in the same league as Jaws, despite the numerous odes sprinkled throughout. On the other hand, it also doesn’t completely let itself go, so it’s not as fun as Sharknado. It also doesn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to shark films, so it can’t just be its “own thing.” Under Paris takes inspiration from numerous shark films, which ultimately feels like its downfall. On a scale of deep sea creatures, with an anglerfish being kind of creepy and a blobfish being the before image of a looksmaxing post on reddit, Under Paris gets a goblin shark.

Under Paris (2024) Official Netflix Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Author

A lover of gore and over the top violence, no movie can make my stomach squirm. The only thing better than a bloody death scene is a well choreographed stunt. Whether it be action or horror, if it has blood in it, then I've likely already seen it.

Cailen Fienemann is a current student at Le Moyne College pursuing her BA in English and Communications with a film studies minor and a creative writing concentration.  Though uncertain about her career end-goals, any job that allows her to write is a cherished one indeed.