A sea-bound thriller that fails to convince
Music video director Declan Whitebloom makes his feature film directing debut with Stowaway (also known as The Yacht) but on the evidence of this waterlogged effort, he should stick to doing what he does best.
This isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, a good film. The direction is uninspired, the plotting is often contrived, the dialogue is ridiculous, and narrative logic is often thrown overboard. Does this mean that the movie isn’t worth a watch? Well, if you’re looking for a quality production, I would have to say yes. But if you’re looking for a movie to watch with your mates on a Friday night, your time might not be completely wasted, as this could be considered enjoyably trashy if you’re in the right frame of mind.
The movie stars Ruby Rose as Bella Denton, a young woman who inherits a boat after her father dies. Due to her fear of water, she is less than thrilled about her inheritance gift but when she discovers it is a luxury yacht complete with a jacuzzi, she begins to appreciate the vessel that her father has left for her.
After climbing aboard for a night of passion with Michael (Patrick Schwarzenegger), a guy she meets at a bar, she wakes up the next morning to discover the boat has left the harbour. Did it come loose from its mooring? Alas, no! While she was asleep, three men snuck on board; two of them mercenaries looking to crack open the boat’s safe, and the other the ship’s captain who has been hired to pilot the boat into the ocean.
After Michael swims to shore to get help, poor Bella, who is afraid of a deep sea plunge, is left onboard to tackle the men alone. The scene is set for a Die Hard/Panic Room-type thriller but unfortunately, the movie never lives up to its premise. There is very little action so, despite Rose’s credentials as a female action star, you shouldn’t expect to see very many scenes of our heroine engaging the bad guys in combat. There is also very little suspense, partly because of Whitebloom’s unimaginative direction that does nothing to crank up the tension.
Instead, we get extended scenes of the armed mercs chatting to one another while trying to break into the safe. Even when they realize Bella is on board, they quickly give up the chase to focus on their job at hand. This is just one illogical piece of plotting but the movie is scattered with many other irrational moments, including a scene when one of the men pursues Bella and inexplicably opens a refrigerator to see if she is inside! Such a scene is ridiculous but it’s also one of the reasons why the film will be watchable to somebody who gets their kicks from watching a bad movie.
Ruby Rose isn’t a terrible actress but she has rarely been given a role that is worthy of her talents. You may remember her from Vanquish, one of the worst movies from 2021, as well as The Doorman and SAS: Red Notice, two other misfires. Stowaway does her no favours and there will be those who regard her performance as wooden. However, the script is the biggest problem. If she had juicier lines of dialogue to work with and more character depth, I get the feeling she could have done more with her role. Better direction would have helped too! As it is, she has barely anything to work with, and so she is left with another dodgy film to muddy up her resume.
Frank Grillo also stars in the movie and he manages to give a decent performance, despite the weaknesses inherent in the screenplay. He isn’t in the movie for long though and neither is Patrick Schwarzenegger, which is a shame, as they both do much to elevate proceedings whenever they are on screen. Luis Da Silva Jr. who portrays Captain Lawson, the man pressganged into piloting the yacht, manages to convince in his role, but the same cannot be said of the remaining actors, including Danny and Scott Bohnen who portray the safe-cracking mercs who have boarded the vessel.
One of the biggest problems with the film is that we never really believe Bella is in danger. The men who chase her come across like bumbling buffoons rather than trained killers so there is nothing to make us worry for her safety. There is one fight scene between her and one of the mercs but as it’s choreographed so badly, you will be sorely disappointed if you’re expecting something visceral and pulse-pounding.
Still, it’s not all bad. The ending, when it mercifully arrives, is actually quite heartwarming, despite the final voiceover that is as cringe-worthy as some of the other dialogue in the film. And as the movie is unintentionally funny at times, you might, as I alluded to earlier, gain some enjoyment from the plot contrivances and shaky acting.
But that’s it for positives as there isn’t much more to say about a movie that plods from one scene to the next with all the energy of a tug boat that has run out of fuel. With another director and a better writer, this could have been marginally better than Speed 2, that other water-bound thriller that failed to please critics. Instead, we have a movie that is in danger of sinking without trace in the minds of all but the most undemanding of viewers.
Read More: Stowaway Ending Explained
Verdict - 4/10