Film Review – JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987)

JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987, USA, 89m, 12) **
Adventure, Thriller
dist. Universal Pictures; pr co. Universal Pictures; d. Joseph Sargent; w. Michael De Guzman (based on characters created by Peter Benchley); pr. Joseph Sargent; ph. John McPherson (DeLuxe | 2.35:1); m. Michael Small; ed. Michael Brown; pd. John J. Lloyd; ad. Donald B. Woodruff.
cast: Lorraine Gary (Ellen Brody), Lance Guest (Michael Brody), Mario Van Peebles (Jake), Karen Young (Carla Brody), Michael Caine (Hoagie), Judith Barsi (Thea), Mitchell Anderson (Sean Brody), Lynn Whitfield (Louisa), Jay Mello (Young Sean Brody), Cedric Scott (Clarence), Charles Bowleg (William), Melvin Van Peebles (Mr. Witherspoon), Mary Smith (Tiffany), Edna Billotto (Polly), Fritzi Jane Courtney (Mrs. Taft), Cyprian R. Dube (Mayor), Lee Fierro (Mrs. Kintner), Moby Griffin (Man in the Boat), Diane Hetfield (Mrs. Ferguson), Daniel J. Manning (Jesus).
Whilst not as bad as its reputation, this third sequel to 1975’s JAWS becomes increasingly preposterous and unravels totally in its final act. The family of widow Ellen Brody (Gary) has long been plagued by shark attacks, and this unfortunate association continues when her youngest son Sean (Anderson) is the victim of a massive great white. In mourning, Ellen goes to visit her other son, Michael (Guest), in the Bahamas, where she meets the charming pilot Hoagie Newcombe (Caine). As Ellen and Hoagie begin a relationship, a huge shark appears off the coast of the island, and Ellen’s trouble with the great whites begins again. The premise presented here through Gary’s paranoia is that the shark is targeting the Brody family. Whilst this is never overtly stated as the reason for the latest attacks, the lack of any logical alternative explanation leaves the film dependant on our willingness to suspend our disbelief. The film is well presented in its early scenes in Amity. When the action moves to the Bahamas, the exotic location makes for some nice photography both above and below the surface. Caine offers up a likeable performance, whilst Gary does her best to persuade us her fears are grounded. Sargent then loses total control of the film in its finale, which is hampered by poor effects work and haphazard editing, which stifle any potential build of tension. Reminders of the masterly original only serve to confirm how low the series had sunk since that classic tale of character and suspense.