- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2005

Let’s see, “Into the Blue” packs beautiful Bahamas locales, gorgeous sea life and enough glimpses of a bikini-clad Jessica Alba to fill a year’s worth of Maxim.

And still it’s as dull as a bag of sand.

“Blue” follows a pair of amateur divers (Miss Alba and “The Fast and the Furious’” Paul Walker) who join their pal (Scott Caan) and his girl du jour (Ashley Scott) for a Bahamas getaway.

Mr. Walker’s Jared dreams of finding buried treasure so he and his beloved Sam (Miss Alba) can retire before their six-pack abs become spare tires.

He nearly does just that when he uncovers a pair of sunken bounties. The first is a crashed airplane loaded with drugs, the second a pirate ship of untold value.

Naturally, Mr. Caan’s frat boy Bryce swipes some of the drugs from the plane, hoping to make a quick profit on land.

That gets the quartet in deep water with the drug lord (“24’s” James Frain, compelling but under-used) who owned the narcotics before they got buried at sea.

It all sounds like the makings of a bona fide guilty pleasure, what with the exotic locales and the huge helpings of cheese and beefcake — Mr. Walker must have been doing pushups between takes.

Yet “Blue” is neither trashy nor as taut as its leads.

What should have been a cinematic tonic for those dreading winter becomes a yawn-inducing shipwreck.

Miss Alba’s physique has all but forced casting agents to make her a star. The camera lovingly marks every curve on her body — you almost expect to see a list of turn-ons and turn-offs printed on the screen. However, her performance here is more confident than in any of her previous films — not that the Academy need take notice just yet.

The less said about Mr. Caan the better. The son of James Caan, the young actor lacks his father’s hulking shoulders and smoldering presence. It could be the most grating turn of the year.

Director John Stockwell (“Blue Crush”) fumbles the final reel dustup with disorientating camerawork but manages some stunning shots of various sea life. He lumbers from slow-motion Jet Ski stunts to ponderous undersea sequences without showing an affinity for either. The shark sequences, though, belong on the Discovery Channel, not a third-rate thriller.

“Into the Blue” deserves to sink to the bottom of the reduced-price DVD bin as soon as possible.

*1/2

TITLE “Into the Blue”

RATING: PG-13 (Violent sequences, drug use, partial nudity and strong language)

CREDITS: Directed by John Stockwell. Written by Matt Johnson.

RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes

WEB SITE: www.sonypictures.

com/movies/intotheblue

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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