Chief Brody’s widow Ellen (Lorraine Gray) is living a quiet life in Amity after the passing of her husband, content with being close to friends and her youngest son, Sean (Mitchell Anderson), who has followed in his father’s footsteps. He’s a deputy with the Amity PD and celebrating the coming Christmas season when he gets sent out into the waters to clear driftwood that’s accumulated around a dingy. Turns out something big and bad is lurking there, waiting for its revenge. That’s right, a relative of the shark from the first movie (or the second one, it’s never very clear) has come and ambushes Sean, killing him dead, dead, dead. Older brother Michael (Lance Guest) arrives for the funeral and convinces his mother to come stay with him and his family in the Bahamas. Ellen is sure that this shark is stalking their family, out for blood, but Michael dismisses this because it’s utterly ludicrous (and yet it is the exact plot of the film). Ellen goes with him and his family, meeting up with witty and swaggering Hoagie (Michael Caine) who swiftly becomes a good friend and love interest for the widow. Things go pretty well for a few days, but the shark shows up (of course) and then the trouble starts. It turns out Ellen is right, this shark is targeting the Brody family. It wants revenge!
There is never any connection made with part 3, but since it features the same characters with different actors, there has to be something going on. Does 4 just ignore 3? It’s very possible it’s a continuation, that we’re seeing the Brody sons a few years later in their lives. In any case, it doesn’t really matter, a mystery that is never solved. What we’ve got here is an attempt to connect to the original film. This one comes off as classier than 3, leaning back on elements of the first film in its style and storytelling. It takes itself very seriously, which could be a mistake considering how idiotic it truly is. This one is fairly bloodless as compared to 3, no gaudy floating 3D limbs here, and certainly isn’t as crass. They try to class it up with the addition of Caine and by bringing back Gray, but in the end it’s a shark attack exploitation movie and it finally owns up to it in the final confrontation with the monster. Yes, it’s absolutely crazy and yes I loved it. That ending saves what was a decent if dull film. I mean, shocking the shark until it leaps from the water so you can spear it with the broken front of the boat…genius! And this is right on the heels of the shark eating a plane! It’s like the director (Joseph Sargent) woke up at the end and was like, “Oh, yeah, we got to do something special here.” And special it is.
The acting is great, the story is absurd, the shark attacks are fairly tepid until the end. Jaws the Revenge has a lot of pedigree and the way it takes itself so seriously is commendable, especially in the face of its silly premise. But it’s only at the end, when it goes full-bore crazy and embraces what it’s there for, that the movie actually works to its fullest degree. This is a fine way to close the saga down for good, the franchise going out on a high note, but still a bit less than the third one in the series.
Two and a Half Stars out of Four