Four years after ridding the waters of Amity of a Great White, Police Chief Brody is confronted with the possibility of another shark attack. Again he is ignored by the townsfolk, and unbeknownst to him his kids have taken off on a boating trip that will prove Brody terrifyingly right.
While the need for a sequel to Jaws is highly debateable, what should have been a gross aberration, making a fast buck all round, turns out a passable B-flick replica of the great white original. Getting Roy Scheider back was a boon, he lends what is ostensibly a perfunctory re-run of Spielberg’s moves, the softly-softly build to the confrontation of the big finale, a solid sense of cohering to the same universe as before. His gritty extension of the character allows us to believe in this trashy hokum.
Under the risk of stating the gaspingly obvious, Jeannot Szwarc is no Steven Spielberg. He has no feel for pace, no gift for invention, no eye for the subtle details of human interaction. He requires Scheider, with help from fellow returnee Lorraine Gary, to land the drama of Brody’s paranoia and eventual firing only, at a terrible cost, to be proven right. Again. Naturally, this requires him to take matters into his own hands, and overcome his swell of phobias to rescue the kids.
Here’s where things descend into something cheaply obvious. The teens on a boating trip being molested by a ravenous monster, something more akin to the rise of the slasher movie than the forbidding man versus nature themes of Spielberg’s making. It is not an ineffective approach, Szwarc plays the jumps dead on, and by the time Brody and shark face off, the film has mustered enough tension for you to care. And they come up with a terrific method for nailing this latest hunk of cartilaginous menace. Subsequent sequels three and four sunk into the preposterous , the former aided by the gimmickry of 3-D, the latter by Michael Caine.
It never comes close to the classic status of its predecessor, but for drive-in horror thrills, this still has sufficient bite.