Starring Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao, Ruby Rose
Shark movies sell, they always have thanks to the iconic and lasting power of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. The Meg is simply this year’s serving of that particular slice of entertainment. Touting a larger budget (experience) than recent shark flicks The Shallows or 47 Meters Down, The Meg combines the usual Jason Statham (Expendables 3, Furious 7) action ordeal with one of the largest sharks ever portrayed on film. Now, if you have seen a Jurassic World film, or any other animal versus human flick, you already know how these things go down. The Meg check marks the jump scares, dumb human moments, escaping by a hair, everything you have seen in every other action flick is covered.
Unsure of what he encountered years ago in the deep, while rescuing a crew from a submarine, diver Jonas Taylor (Statham) has always maintained “there is something down there”. That something turns out to be a megalodon, thought to be extinct for over 200 years. The largest known breed of shark has apparently survived beneath a sub-cloud layer, deeper than any human has ever dived until now. A billion-dollar underwater research facility helmed by scientist Dr. Minway Zhang (Chao) and owned by Jack Morris (Wilson), has lost their explorer sub with Taylor’s ex-wife inside. Forced out of drunken retirement, Taylor must dive deeper than ever before for a rescue and come face to face with the creature that killed his friends so many years ago.
The Meg check marks the jump scares, dumb human moments, escaping by a hair, everything you have seen in every other action flick is covered.
Fear is the main ingredient for films like this. The fear that anyone sitting in the crowd watching a movie might encounter something similar out in the ocean. With dinosaurs that fear is belittled because they don’t exist anymore, but shark attacks happen weekly all over the world. The choice of shark here is why Hollywood and Chinese filmmaking is often seen as obnoxious because they go too big and too far. That fear is severely subdued because this type of “monster” doesn’t exist and of course Statham always saves the day. The most creative elements to The Meg, and honestly, I am surprised there were any, occurs in the first part of the film how the script goes to great depths explaining the deep-sea dive. Once the shark is introduced and shown on screen, about an hour in, the film just rolls over and gets lazy.
I am not one to encourage talking during a movie, however, The Meg is the type of dumb popcorn flick that’s far more enjoyable if you practice sarcastic digs and wisecracks for the duration. Meaning, this isn’t the movie you want to watch at a theater that demands complete silence. The movie might be called The Meg, but the story is far more about Statham’s character than the killer shark. The script misses the opportunity to embrace character and circumstantial sarcasm within the genre like superior killer animal flick Lake Placid (1999) or moderately enjoyable B-movie adventure Deep Rising (1998). The Meg certainly has impressive visuals, thank you Chinese financiers, and a fleetingly memorable score by Harry Gregson-Williams. However, this movie is helmed by Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure, The Sorcerer's Apprentice) who has always been far more focused on delivering family entertainment than really pushing any cinematic boundaries.
Somewhere between dumb entertaining popcorn flick and run of the mill action flick is where The Meg lurks.