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Film review: 'Blue's' main point: skimpy swimsuits

INTO THE BLUE — * — Paul Walker, Jessica Alba, Scott Caan; rated PG-13 (violence, drugs, profanity, gore, vulgarity).

Whole sections of "Into the Blue" seem to be about nothing more than getting the film's attractive young stars into the skimpiest, most revealing outfits, and showing off their tanned, toned bodies.

It doesn't help that the film features some of the most exploitative camera angles seen in what's supposed to be legitimate cinema (the number of shots of the actresses' rear ends is staggering).

Still, at least this impromptu beach "fashion show" is more watchable than the rest of the movie, which eventually turns into an improbable adventure-thriller filled with groan-inducing dialogue and equally groan-inducing performances.

Walker stars as Jared, a recently fired diving instructor and amateur treasure hunter who believes he's discovered a legendary wrecked ship that's worth millions in the Bahamas. Unfortunately, he and his friends (Alba, Scott Caan and Ashley Scott) have also found the wreckage of a plane belonging to drug runners. That leaves them in something of a pickle, because if they report the plane, they risk alerting others to their other find. Things get worse when the drug traffickers come looking for their plane, and the loyalties of the friends are tested.

Director John Stockwell has proven his competency behind the camera, having turned some other sketchy premises into passable fun ("crazy/beautiful" and "Blue Crush"). But even he can't really do anything with this material (courtesy of hack screenwriter Matt Johnson).

As for his stars, obviously they look good in swimsuits, but as actors their performances rarely get better than wooden. In particular, Walker mumbles so many of his lines that the film almost needs subtitles. (The one person who really seems to be trying is Josh Brolin, who hams it up as a rival "salvager.")

"Into the Blue" is rated PG-13 for violence (shootings, stabbings, fisticuffs, shark attacks and some explosive mayhem), some strong drug content (including cocaine possession), occasional use of strong profanity (including one usage of the so-called "R-rated" curse word), some graphic gore, and some sexually suggestive talk and references). Running time: 110 minutes.