After escaping an attack by what he claims was a 70-foot shark, Jonas Taylor must confront his fears to save those trapped in a sunken submersible.
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On its face, The Meg
should be a slam dunk late summer flick. It has all the makings of a fun, 2-hour distraction, and yet somehow, it misses the mark in most of the important categories. For a movie with a giant shark terrorizing a group of oceanic researchers (as well as a few other faces), The Meg
isn't sure if it wants to embrace its campiness or veer more towards a serious thriller. By the end, it's clear that The Meg
is more disposable fun than anything else, but by then, it's too little too late.
Jason Statham stars as Jonas Taylor, a retired deep-sea rescue specialist called to the Mana One research facility after a sub carrying his ex-wife and a few others is seemingly attacked. The sub's crew believes that something dangerous disabled their vessel and so Taylor is called in to save them. He has a history with saving sunken vessels at extreme depths and he believes there is something dangerous lurking down there. Turns out, he's right. The crew unearths a megalodon, a prehistoric shark that is massive, and invites it between a barrier of super cold water that had previously kept the meg away.
As one might expect when a group of "scientists/researchers" unearth something prehistoric, the meg starts wreaking havoc in open water, and Statham and Co. try to kill or capture the creature. Does it go poorly? Definitely. Is the resulting chaos fun to watch? Kind of...
is best when it embraces the fact that a giant shark is putting itself into situations where lots of people are going to get hurt. Unfortunately, for a lot of the film, the meg is merely minding its own business and the Mana One employees are trying to stop it. The shark's revenge, if you could call it that, is merely that it is being bothered and would rather kill these humans than get killed. Eventually, the megalodon does start to kill unsuspecting humans, but by then the film is nearly over and a really exciting premise is squandered.
Perhaps the oddest thing about The Meg
is that it tries to balance drama with comedy. Some characters, like Rainn Wilson's billionaire Morris, exist merely to make sure the audience realizes how silly this premise is. While others, like Li Bingbing's Suyin, have serious dramatic scenes...in a movie with a giant shark. Apparently, The Meg
went through a bunch of rewrites and reshoots, and it shows in the finished product. Even just the fact that this is a movie about a giant shark eating people and features almost no blood is enough to tell you how confused The Meg
is about its identity.
As a casual view on a Sunday afternoon, The Meg
is a passable distraction. The CGI is well done on the megalodon, which at least puts the film above something that would appear on Syfy on a Saturday night. But for a summer movie that had a lot of potential, The Meg
struggles to find its voice, which is odd to say considering the plot. All you want is to see a shark eat people in gruesome ways, a few characters to put out the absurdity of it all, and then for there to be an epic showdown between man and beast. The Meg
has some shades of each of those elements, but not enough to make it what you would call fun. It's merely mediocre.
The fact that The Meg
has more action sequences than it has shark murders is enough to tell you that this is a Jason Statham vehicle that just happens to have a giant shark. We spend more time watching Jason Statham's character be daring than we do watching the actual title character do what it does best. There are a few moments that are exciting and appropriately cheesy, but they are too few and far between to carry the film. There's also too much reliance on chase sequences which get tired very fast. How many times can you see a character narrowly escape a giant shark before it starts to feel silly? The Meg
has your answer.
The source material, a book by Steve Alten, treats the concept as a thriller and it works pretty well. But when The Meg
starts to dabble in campiness and then switch back to more action, it loses focus, and then, it loses its audience.