From the moments the credits roll until they finally end there’s a bizarre sense of déjà vu running throughout Adrift. It’s a low budget thriller set in the vast ocean where some friends unfortunately become stranded in the deep waters and it’s apparently based on true events. If this sounds remarkably similar to Open Water to you you’d be right on the money. Both share similar set-ups and both share similar themes but while Open Water’s central concept of shark attacks remains as terrifying as it is plausible Adrift chooses to opt for a less believable scenario and proceeds to ramp it up into the realms of the impossible as it goes.
The story centers on a group of young friends, clearly all without a care in the world, who decide to relive their glory days by hiring a luxury yacht and heading out on a private cruise to see the sights and get ridiculously drunk as they go. Sounds like fun? Probably is for anybody with two brain cells to rub together but the only common sense demonstrated by the cast of Adrift is by the newborn baby. Why? Because the whole reason the group are stuck in the deep inhospitable waters is because while they all were busy jumping in to head for a swim not one of them remembered to put the ladder down so that they could climb back onboard.
So you’ve got to immediately accept that despite the fact this group has a newborn on board every single one of them forgets this within an instant, cracks open the wine and jumps overboard like they’re in Cancun. While this may be one of the much-lauded “real events” the story takes its inspiration from it’s a bad move for the film as it doesn’t make our lead characters very likeable, in fact you practically wish for a shark to come up and viscously maul them before heading back for seconds. But wait there’s more. The baby’s mother is afraid of water and perpetually worried for her child but, in a moment of inexplicable insanity, seemingly forgets these facts as she gleefully leaps into the deep blue.
This is but one fact that makes the protagonists unlikable and damn right callous individuals, they don’t do anything to win our favor. As the film progresses and the panic rises (well, it’s supposed to but the only thing I was panicking about was whether I’d have a parking ticket when I left) the creative team attempt to create a connection between the characters and us by utilizing crudely photographed flashbacks but it’s too little, too late for us to care that the woman’s Dad died by drowning (something they flash on screen at regular intervals to remind those who’ve fallen asleep).
And then, as if the filmmakers suddenly realized the trash they’re making, they throw in some gratuitous nudity to get pulses racing when the group tries to use their clothes to make a rudimentary rope in the hope of climbing back onboard.
In certain territories this film’s being marketed as Open Water 2 and it’s for a very good reason, it’s practically a rip-off minus everything that made that feature a success. Bar the gratuitous nudity. When all is said and done the only thing that comes out of Adrift with any dignity is the ocean itself and it’s certainly the only member of the cast you’ll be hoping survives.