MOVIE REVIEW – For a movie that sold itself by pitting action movie star Jason Statham against a giant, prehistoric shark – and grossed more than $500 million worldwide in the process – it was especially disappointing that 2018’s The Meg had, well, a pretty low-key Statham vs. Shark theme.
Not only does the sequel lack the confrontation, it also lacks the shark scenes, and the “story” (if there’s such a thing…) is terribly dumb. However, if you’re looking for a completely brain-dead, one-note shark disaster movie, you’re in for a treat, because the movie embraces its own stupidity…
The big shark stays, the director goes away
In an industry where money talks, veteran action hero Jason Statham is back again as the giant shark-fighting hero in Meg 2: The Trench. Bizarrely, director Turteltaub has been replaced by British director Ben Wheatley, which is odd because Wheatley tends to make movies that are a bit more sophisticated, often containing dark, black comedy, and while a movie like Meg 2 could really use some dark humor, the director is far from predestined for a killer shark bait/(proper underline…) action movie.
Whatever Wheatley’s reasons for agreeing to direct Meg 2, at least he’s aware that what he’s making isn’t very good – the script by Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber and Dean Georgaris leaves a lot to be desired – and this self-awareness helps the movie survive its overly generous 116-minute running time.
And all this while trying to shove a story down our throats that is far too convoluted for such a trashy movie – do we really need that much build-up and explanation when it’s a basking shark movie? Luckily, while the largely celebrity and to a lesser extent press crowd was queuing up for the popcorn for Bambi, the able Etele Cinema management had already started the screening at 7pm sharp, so we were spared some of the build-up.
Giant sharks, giant octopuses, armed terrorists and dinosaurs (!) – it’s all there, just like in the fairy tale!
Despite the fact that too many co-stars survived the first movie, Cliff Curtis and Page Kennedy are the only two returning actors, but it’s perfectly understandable if you don’t remember them, because – apart from the fact that it had a trash story – Meg 2 pretty much serves as a stand-alone movie. All you need to know is that the trio are part of a team of explorers on a research dive to uncover the secrets hidden deep beneath the ocean and that the trench beneath the ocean is some kind of untapped “virgin territory” that, once disturbed, is visited by a horde of colossal Megs – Megalodons to the uninitiated – who come to the surface to wreak havoc.
If only the story were that quick and easy… It seems that Meg 2 hasn’t learned from the mistakes of its predecessor, and for much of its running time, the titular ‘Megs’ are relegated to the background. Wheatley’s horror-action movie devotes the first 2/3 of its running time to good old Statham and his crew of “interchangeable” victims, who walk the ocean floor when their research capsules are threatened. Sabotage from above – it won’t be too hard to guess who the scheming villain in the background will be – and soon Statham and his crew are up against everything. Besides giant sharks, there’s octopuses, armed terrorists and dinosaurs – go on, go on!
All’s well that ends well?
In the last third, the movie suddenly comes to life, in a completely different style than the previous cautious and introductory scenes. This is where the real action and chaos happens, where the movie finally lets go and lets the story take off on its own. This section is perhaps the most memorable moment of the movie, even if it takes a long time to get there.
But all this doesn’t save Meg 2: The Trench from being a one-note movie: it’s not a good movie at all. But it seems to know that about itself, and if the viewer is willing to give in to the madness, it has the potential to be fun for a very obviously cheesy monster movie; there’s just too much unnecessary “plot” to get through to finally get to it.