‘Blue Miracle’ movie review: Netflix fishing drama certainly knot enough

For a movie about a group of underdogs emerging triumphant against all odds, Julio Quintana’s latest feature strays hopelessly from the true spirit of its story

Instead of providing a unique foray into the nerve-racking risks that its characters undertake, this Netflix production clings on to the age-old formula synonymous with sports flicks, pandering unabashedly to family audiences, and partaking in silly frivolities made commonplace by similar big-budget commercial duds.

Set in the picturesque Mexican city of Cabo San Lucas, known for its vibrant beaches and lively nightlife, its story essentially centres around Omar (Jimmy Gonzalez). He is an honest do-gooder who runs an orphanage and is in dire need of funds to prevent his wards from going homeless. Bereft of donors and with the local bank on his back, he needs $112,000 immediately.

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However, his solution to this predicament is rather unconventional if not entirely bizarre: entering the world’s highest-paying fishing competition with a band of kids, woefully ignorant of what they have signed up for.

In their pursuits, they befriend an elderly fisherman by the name of Wade Malloy (Dennis Quad). An irate drunk and an all-round grumpy individual, Malloy’s only achievement in life is winning a glorified fishing contest twice, enough to keep his ego bloated for a lifetime.

He assumes the role of the great white saviour while grappling with his inner demons: a broken marriage, an estranged offspring, a failed career — leading to bouts of self-righteous angst that is more laughable than laudable.

Blue Miracle

  • Director: Julio Quintana
  • Cast: Dennis Quaid, Jimmy Gonzales, Raymond Cruz
  • Duration: 95 minutes
  • Storyline: To save their cash-strapped orphanage, a guardian and his kids partner with a washed-up boat captain for a chance to win a lucrative fishing competition

Thus, reeling from a wide array of unlikeable characters and a black-and-white portrayal of their problems, the film ends up being an unpleasant concoction of stale tropes and uninspired screenwriting, reminiscent of a television movie that can make one change the channel in a heartbeat.

This, despite the fact, that its seemingly ridiculous premise is actually inspired by real-life happenings only end up highlighting the incompetence of its creators. Back in 2014, a middle-aged Omar Venegas along with his team of orphans —who had never caught a fish before — made headlines by catching a 385-pound marlin in a fishing tournament. Their story did garner widespread interest, but seems to have not translated well on screen.

Gonzales as Omar packs a punch with his delightful performance, injecting his share of stale dialogues with much-needed conviction, portraying on-screen, a character that one can truly empathise with. Yet, the reel-life Omar is painted as a modern-day saint who selflessly tends to the less fortunate with a holier-than-thou attitude that is entirely repulsive.

Quad’s antics as Malloy, is equally unimpressive as he opts for a rather heavy-handed approach to play his character. Despite, coming off as an eccentric, the old sea dog indulges in the most predictable behavioural patterns. One, where he is shouting at everybody initially but ends up becoming a valuable member of the team.

The rest of the cast, comprising of child actors, is lively on-screen, but their performances are rendered toothless by the films flawed dialogue writing, which is mostly in English, with a healthy spattering of Mexican words thrown in for good measure.

Separately, Santiago Benet Mari’s deft camerawork adds some life to the endeavour, capturing the idyllic beach town in all its glory, as its characters wade through the pristine blue waters in search of an adventure.

All in all, Blue Miracle does best when it attempts to subvert genre expectations, but such attempts are few and far between. A vibrantly-shot film, marred by its inherent need to traverse the path most trodden, it ends up becoming a drag straight out of its protagonist’s subconscious.

Blue Miracle is currently streaming on Netflix


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