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film review

(L-R) Andy Casagrande, Julie Andersen, Brock Cahill, Regi Domingo, Tyler McCloud, Meiki Heidemeyer, and Jonah Bryson attend the Sharkwater Extinction premiere during 2018 Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 7, 2018 in Toronto.Kevin Winter

Sharkwater Extinction

Directed by Rob Stewart

Classification: PG; 88 minutes

Rating:

3 out of 4 stars

Never mind what Jaws and The Meg tell you, it’s safe to go back into the water.

Safe for us, that is, not for the sharks. The globe-trotting investigative documentary Sharkwater Extinction is an exposé on the brutally illegal shark-fin industry and an update of 2006’s Sharkwater.

It’s also the late conservationist Rob Stewart’s final film. We watch as he and his team travel from Costa Rica to Cape Verde to the Bahamas to Panama and to the ocean right outside Los Angeles.

Atrocities against sharks are secretly filmed, with ugly images interspersed with moments of exquisite underwater beauty.

A species and an ecosystem are at peril, as was the Toronto filmmaker Stewart, who died in a diving accident during the filming. And so a gutsy film about a planet’s delicate balance takes on a poignant tone, with themes of mortality unavoidable.

Stewart believed people would rally to the shark cause if only they knew the gravity of the situation. The film is now made, the word is out and Stewart more than did his part.

Sharkwater Extinction opens Oct. 19