Movie Review: 'Sea of Shadows'

John Thomas

James Bond agent 007 reads National Geographic. The thrilling story line for Sea of Shadows (SOS) follows the formula for an international spy thriller to the last detail.

There are the bad guys – the Mexican smuggling cartels and the Chinese mafia. The good guys have the Mexican navy, police, conservationists, rescue teams, physicians and TV journalists. The two opposing forces challenge each other on the sea, under the sea, above the sea and on land. There is gunfire, explosions, car chases, smuggling, fearsome bribery, the occasional rescue and painful deaths.

The SOS directors, with the support of National Geographic Documentary Film and Leonardo di Caprio, have sought to bring to light the catastrophic events taking place in the Sea of Cortes. This most diverse sea on the planet is the slender body of water bordering the east side of Baja California and the west side of mainland Mexico.

The 2,500 mile long coastline shelters approximately 900 small islands and around 5,000 species of animal life. The most famous resident, however, is the vaquita, the world’s smallest whale. Their numbers have diminished drastically in recent years from hundreds to less than 15.

China will pay anything for just the swim bladder from these small, charming, unique endangered species. In spite of international regulations against trapping and exporting vaquita bladders, there are suppliers, buyers and business is thriving.

The ship, “Sea Shepherd,” under the guidance of Captain Jack Hutton, roams the world in search of any threatened life and is now in the Sea of Cortes. Andrea Crosta, founder of Earth League International, the organization instrumental in stopping elephant tusk harvesting, is also there. TV journalist Carlos Loret de Mola reports the developing story on Mexican TV. Cynthia Smith, a veterinarian, is also in the midst of the rescue effort.

Yet, the vaquita are not the only ones at risk of losing their lives – the entire sea is. To capture these animals the criminals use nets. The nets also trap everything and anything swimming in the area – most of the creatures die before they can be rescued.

This disruption to the natural course of life in both the sea and on land could cause the area to eventually die. The “good” fisherman/residents of the area will lose their means of livelihood.

As if these concerns weren’t serious enough, it is predicted that if this criminal activity is not stopped, it will escalate and spread. Trafficking in bladders could escalate to human trafficking. Smuggling small items could advance to larger, more dangerous contraband.

If no one says no to these criminals, they could interpret it as a yes, continue what you’re doing. SOS is a thrill-a-minute movie with a chilling message.

Directed by Richard Ladkani, (Credit: The Ivory Game), Sean Boyle (Credit: Souls of the Vermillion Sea) and Matthew Podolsky, (Credit: Bluebird Man), Sea of Shadows is a “must see” movie.


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