‘Under Paris’ Netflix Review: The Best Shark Movie Since ‘Jaws’

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Given how trailers and even teasers give away most of the film’s plot, I tend to just watch 10–20 seconds of it and make up my mind. Under Paris had me hooked based on its premise that there’s a shark in the Seine. As a fan of shark films, I didn’t need to know much more before diving into it. Now, seemingly unrelated to that, I was watching a video by Patrick Willems about what’s going to be the next big thing in the world of entertainment after superhero movies. While on the topic of legacy sequels, Willems mentioned Steven Spielberg. That got me thinking: while Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park got the legacy sequel treatment twice, why hasn’t anybody done a legacy sequel for Jaws? Sure, the sequels were bad, but they were profitable. It’s considered the foundation stone for shark films as well as the concept of a blockbuster. So, why isn’t anyone returning to the beaches of Amity? Well, that’s a question that only Hollywood executives can answer. I am here to say that Under Paris is the closest thing that we can get to a Jaws legacy sequel.

Xavier Gens’ Under Paris, which is based on an original idea (sure!) by Edouard Duprey and Sebastien Auscher and written by Yael Langmann, Olivier Torres, Yannick Dahan, Maud Heywang, and Gens, opens on the northern side of the Pacific Ocean, which is filled with all kinds of garbage. A small team, led by Sophia, is there to gather some samples from a shark named Lilith. Of course, things go wrong, and with the exception of Sophia and her assistant, everyone (including Sophia’s husband) dies. Sophia makes a last-ditch attempt to get the job done, but she gets her eardrums ruptured by being dragged to the depths of the seas by Lilith. She barely manages to survive and then spends the next three years of her life teaching people about marine life. She is approached by an SOS (Save Our Sharks) activist, Mika, who tells her that Lilith has somehow made her way into the Seine. Mika believes that if she isn’t taken back to the seas, the freshwater is going to kill the seawater creature. Sophia refuses to work with Mika because of her traumatic past. However, as shark attacks become rampant and the date for an international triathlon competition gets closer, Sophia realizes that she needs to script a reunion with Lilith.

With the exception of some good films, the practice of making legacy sequels has turned into a lazy exercise where the basic premise of the original is remade, albeit with a greater budget and zero creativity. So, it’s obvious that they end up falling flat on their faces and are labeled as an egregious attempt at nostalgia-baiting. But it’s wild that despite recreating the mayor versus chief of police conflict of Jaws for Under Paris almost beat-by-beat, it has the same impact. That’s because, between 1975 and 2024, the attitude of politicians towards public safety hasn’t changed one bit. It has probably worsened, and that’s reflected in the scale of the devastation in the French film, which is far more than what happened in Jaws. Spielberg’s film took a universal approach while tackling political apathy for human life; hence, people referred to it while talking about the COVID-19 pandemic and many other life-threatening incidents. Under Paris, though, is laser-focused on the topic of climate change, as it turns Lilith into a metaphor for the wrath of nature, which doesn’t care if you are a climate activist or not—everyone dies, period. By the way, before someone says that Under Paris is “too woke” because of Lilith’s parthenogenesis (animals giving birth without mating), it’s actually scientifically accurate.

Under Paris is genuinely scary. Look, I’ve been a fan of shark movies since the Deep Blue Sea days. Yes, the sharks in these movies generate fear, but in a fun way. And since sharks in movies continue to get bigger and more preposterous in terms of their behavior, they become a vehicle for spectacle rather than something that’s going to give you nightmares. While Lilith is no different, the way Xavier Gens uses her generates anticipation and dread. The CGI, VFX, and practical effects used to create the creature are flawless, but Gens and his team never overuse them. They keep her in the shadows until it’s absolutely necessary to show her. All of the human and shark interactions were fantastic and had me squeezing my stress ball. But the one in the catacombs simply takes the cake. Without spoiling anything, Under Paris‘ ending can feel like it comes out of nowhere. However, if you look closely at the first scene that takes place in Paris and the stuff that’s extracted out of the Seine by the police, you’ll certainly appreciate the setup and the payoff. The movie has really good pacing, and the music injects a sense of energy into the nerve-wracking ordeal. It’s a shame that killer shark lovers won’t get to experience it on the big screen.

The performances from the whole cast of Under Paris are brilliant. Berenice Bejo shows that although Sophia is a bundle of nerves and she is extremely apprehensive about tackling Lilith because she has been traumatized by her, she is ready to overlook all of that to save people. Her sense of desperation is very relatable, especially for those who know what humanity is wading into but are powerless to bring about any immediate change via policies and regulations. Nassim Lyes, Sandra Parfait, Aksel Ustun, Aurelia Petit, Marvin Dubart, Daouda Keita, and Ibrahima Ba play a version of the French police that I have never seen in real life. It is refreshing to see these actors channel a sense of empathy and care that’s most likely absent from this profession, not just in France but all over the world. Lea Leviant and Nagisa Morimoto channel an honest sense of optimism and rebellion, which has a heavy undercurrent of naivety that probably stems from the act of being too online. And then there’s Anne Marivin, who will have you chugging a lot of water to keep yourself calm as she embodies every idiotic politician you’ve ever seen (this is a compliment, BTW). The rest of the supporting cast, as well as the stunt actors, are insanely fantastic. It’s a physically demanding movie, and I can only imagine the determination and grit needed to pull off all those underwater scenes. So, a huge round of applause to all of them!

So, to answer the question that I had asked in the first paragraph of the review, yes, I do think that Under Paris is the best shark movie since Jaws. It opens with a bang, sets the stage for a tension-filled and thrilling viewing experience, and delivers on that promise. The use of the shark as a climate change metaphor is excellent. The way it deromanticizes the surroundings of the Eiffel Tower and the Seine is impressive. I wish other film industries with iconic spots in their country started making monster movies (they don’t have to be sharks, specifically) to do the same and create some awareness about the times we are living in and the times that lie ahead of us. On a technical level, the film is very proficient and features some amazing underwater and water-based action-horror sequences. On top of that, the committed performances from the whole cast keep you engaged from the first frame to the last. Therefore, if you are a fan of shark movies, and you can’t get the next generation to watch shark movies like Jaws or Deep Blue Sea because the visual or practical effects are too janky and the tone or pitch is odd, I highly recommend using Under Paris as a gateway into this subgenre.


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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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