No Way Up (2024) Review
The poster for No Way Up says that it’s from the executive producers of the 47 Meters Down series. That’s not a good sign because it means it’s from the money men behind those films, not the writers, directors or any of the creative types. This time around, they’ve decided to offer their finny cash cows an all-you-can-eat buffet and, taking a cue from Airport 77, they’ve crashed an airliner into the Pacific. That leaves the survivors trapped on the ocean floor in a rapidly shrinking air pocket and surrounded by sharks.
As No Way Up starts things are already looking bad for Jed (Jeremias Amoore, Zero Chill, How to Be A) and Kyle (Will Attenborough, Hunter Killer, The Outpost). Kyle’s date for their trip to Cabo backed out at the last minute. Jed’s girlfriend Ava (Sophie McIntosh, Shortland Street, Brave New World) has shown up, but her politician father has insisted on sending a bodyguard, Brandon (Colm Meaney, Confession, Marlowe), along just in case.
But he isn’t much help when a midair collision with a flock of birds causes one of the engines to catch fire and shower the plane with shrapnel. We get the expected scenes of the plane ripping open, people being sucked out, etc. and the plane ends up at the bottom of the ocean, right on the edge of a massive canyon.
No Way Up is the first feature for writer Andy Mayson, although he does have plenty of credits as a producer, including on a pair of other films about sharks, Great White and Shark Bait. Unfortunately, he seems to have just written down a list of clichés. Director Claudio Fäh (Sniper: Ultimate Kill, Northmen: A Viking Saga) takes that list and starts whittling down what’s left of the cast, which isn’t much.
The only other passengers on the flight that we met were an elderly couple, Mardy (Phyllis Logan, Downton Abbey, Last Train to Christmas) and Hank (James Carrol Jordan, Dead in Tombstone, Superchick) and their granddaughter Rosa (Grace Nettle, Quentin Blake’s Box of Treasures, War of the Worlds). So it’s no surprise that, apart from our leads, the only survivors are Rosa, Mardy and a flight attendant Danilo (Manuel Pacific, Terminator: Dark Fate, Ride).
Unfortunately, No Way Up falls apart faster than the plane’s engine. One of the characters dives into the flooded section of the plane to retrieve an oxygen tank, only to run into a shark. They make it back to the others just long enough to deliver an inspirational speech before being dragged to their doom by the beast. No trying to get out of the water, no visible blood in the water or even a scream before they go under. Just a ridiculously stoic “You can do this”
From here we descend into the usual disaster movie tropes. We get some shots of helicopters looking for the wreck as one of the characters starts proclaiming that they’re all going to die. Which is the cue for the least likely character to find their inner strength, and Rosa reveals she knows lots about sharks. And that’s just in time because the plane is starting to shift and could slide into the abyss at any moment.
There’s almost nothing happening in No Way Up that you won’t see coming well in advance, even if you haven’t seen many disaster films. There’s almost no tension because everything feels inevitable, who lives, who dies, it’s all by the numbers. And no, saying there are survivors isn’t a spoiler, you know they’re not going to have a nihilistic, Open Water type ending with a ten-year-old girl involved. Not in a mainstream commercial film like this.
This could, and should have been, a much better film. The plot had the potential to be a taut thriller with a fair amount of blood and action. Instead, No Way Up goes hard on talk and clichés, spiced up with some so-so CGI sharks and a bit of gore. When it comes to No Way Up, just say no way.
No Way Up has been seeing release in various countries since mid-January and debuts today in the UK. In the US, RLJE Films will release it to theatres, VOD and Digital Platforms on January 16th.