The 1987 film, Jaws: The Revenge, opens with Amity Island (last seen in Jaws 2) preparing to celebrate Christmas. Longtime police chief and veteran shark hunter Martin Brody has died but his widow, Ellen (Lorraine Gary), still lives on the island. Also living on the island is Ellen’s youngest son, Sean (Mitchell Anderson). Sean is now a deputy and he spends a lot of time patrolling the ocean. This worries Ellen because the Brodys don’t exactly have the best luck when it come to the water….
Or continuity for that matter! Anyone who has seen Jaws 3-D knows that Sean Brody moves down to Florida, became a cowboy, hooked up with Lea Thompson, and worked with his older brother at Sea World. And yet, as Jaws: The Revenge opens, Sean is suddenly back in Amity, he’s not a cowboy, and he’s engaged to someone who is not Lea Thompson. Throughout the film, no mention is made of Sean having ever gone to Florida or going through a cowboy phase. Basically, this film ignores the entire existence of Jaws 3-D. That would be okay if Jaws: The Revenge was actually a better film than Jaws 3-D but it’s not. That’s right, Jaws The Revenge fails to even improve on Jaws 3-D.
Anyway, Sean goes out on patrol and promptly gets eaten by a shark. Ellen loses her mind at the funeral and announces that she doesn’t want her oldest son, Michael (Lance Guest), going anywhere near the water. Unfortunately, Michael is working in the Bahamas as a marine biologist so …. well, sorry, grandma.
Perhaps to try to help Ellen get over her fear of water, Michael brings Ellen back to the Bahamas with him. Ellen gets a chance to spend some time with her daughter-in-law, Carla (Karen Young) and her granddaughter, Thea (Judith Barsi). Ellen also pursues a tentative romance with the local pilot, Hoagie (Michael Caine, who gives a likable performance but who also has absolutely zero romantic chemistry with Lorraine Gary). However, Ellen still has nightmares about the ocean and she suspects that the shark that killed Sean might be on its way to the Bahamas. Why? Because this time it’s personal!
Actually, as crazy as that sounds, it turns out that Ellen’s right. Unfortunately, it takes the shark a while to get down there and, as such, the audience spends a lot of time watching Ellen, who was always the least interesting character in all of the Jaws films, wander around the Bahamas. The island scenery is lovely but when you’re watching a Jaws movie, you’re watching for the shark action. Jaws: The Revenge is only a 90-minute film and the shark doesn’t make its second appearance until the 50 minute mark.
Once the shark does show up, of course, it gets right down business. It eats a swimmer. It eats an airplane. It sinks a boat. At one point the shark bites someone in half and someone off-screen is heard to shout, “Get a doctor!” as if a doctor is going to be able to do much in that situation. Ellen sets out to get some revenge of her own, which would be a thrilling moment if Ellen was as iconic a character as Jaws: The Revenge seems to think that she is. My favorite moment is when Michael Caine reveals that, despite the odds, he somehow managed to avoid getting eaten by the shark. When someone asks him how he did it, he replies, “It wasn’t easy …. bloody Hell,” and that’s pretty much all that’s said about it.
Ultimately, though, this is the least of the four Jaws films, duplicating neither the suspense of the first two films nor the camp silliness of the third film. Fortunately, though this film may have been the last official sequel to Jaws, the legacy of the classic original will live forever.