The Meg Movie Review
Since 2016’s THE SHALLOWS, there’s been a modest attempt to make compelling shark movies, but on the flip side of that coin, since the first SHARKNADO in 2013, there have been a lot of garbage shark films. THE MEG finds itself squarely in between these two extremes. It offers up a fun list of characters with their own personal and emotional stakes. But then there’s the absurdity of a prehistoric 70-foot shark that escapes the undiscovered territories in the Mariana Trench.
Jonas (Statham) has a chance at redemption. He’s called upon by the researchers at Mana One to rescue some scientists trapped in a submersive ship that’s recently been attacked in the Trench. The scientists are unaware of the dangers that have trapped their fellow researchers thousands of miles below the ocean, but Jonas has a spot-on guess. Five years prior, he believes he witnessed a massive entity doom a nuclear submarine. And he’s right as THE MEG doesn’t take long to reveal its monstrous toothy beast of the sea.
Unfortunately, THE MEG doesn’t go as bonkers as it could have with its premise. There are too many moments of self-seriousness by characters, deflating some tense action sequences like when Statham channels his persona from THE TRANSPORTER underwater. I think some blame has to be placed on the writers who were actually adapting a sci-fi/horror book that possibly treated the shark as a real threat. It wouldn’t surprise me if the characters in the book were noble professionals of their field fighting in the deep blue sea. THE MEG writers may have been unsure how to completely scrap the realistic human qualities of those characters instead of making them cardboard cutouts of pulpy villains and heroes, settling on tongue in cheek moments instead of going with flow in a so-so drama.
When THE MEG hits that corny sweet spot though, it’ll have you grinning or sitting in silence as you wait for that inevitable cheap thrill. You can tell Statham is having a lot of fun, especially in one moment where he precariously swims towards the megalodon quoting FINDING NEMO. Also Rainn Wilson’s character, the man funding the entire Mariana Trench expedition, seems to understand the role of an emotionless and manipulative corporate entity. Without looking at the camera, Wilson knows that you’re just waiting for him to become shark food. Everyone else fits their role well, but they’re either uncomfortably stereotypic or forgettable.
As to whether or not this latest shark film sinks or swims, it keeps its head above water by doggy paddling towards the end credits. There’s a lot of fun, but unfortunately it’s scattered throughout a nearly two-hour film that can’t settle on a satisfactory tone. It’s boring when it tries to make you feel anything besides laughter or one of its many shark jump scares. THE MEG casually stays afloat, thanks to Statham’s cock-sure charm and good guy heroics. Honestly that’s all I could hope for having seen films like SHARKTOPUS and AVALANCHE SHARKS in the past on Netflix on a lazy Saturday night.