Channelling a bit of Deep Blue Sea and Jaws, The Meg features a premise that's so ridiculous that you kind of just have to power off the logical part of your brain as you sit down to watch it. Not down to Sharknado levels, but as this movie takes itself a whole lot more seriously, the end result is not necessarily much better.
To illustrate just how bad it gets there's even a diagram on display to explain the premise of the pre-historic beast escaping from its captivity on the ocean floor. An actual diagram. Jason Statham plays his usual kind of role, a roughneck hero type with a chip on his shoulder. As the only man ever to have rescued people from depths below 10,000 metres he's called out of retirement to save a submarine that's plunged down below the presumed ocean floor into a pre-historic pressure chamber of sorts. That's the start of it, a rescue mission, submarines (some that look a bit like the spaceship Anakin piloted in episode one), and an underwater research station. Later on, it becomes a bit more of a chase as the Megalodon looks for human meat on the beach.
While Jason Statham rarely features in excellent movies, he is rather good at what he does - he excels at action - but for some reason, in The Meg he's been given an unhealthy amout of lines and a pretty weak romantic endeavour. In a bit of a bait and switch move, he's not getting back with his ex-wife (played by Jessica McNamee) who he rescues from the depths, but rather with the Chinese scientist (played by Bingbing Li) whose delivery of romantic lines in English borders on Tommy Wiseau levels of cringe. For some scenes, you'd wish the theatre had provided you with a pillow to cover up your face... it's that cringey.
Rainn Wilson is, well, we all loved him in The Office, but ever since it's become painfully clear that he's a fish out of water anywhere else. Here he's a combination of comic relief and heartless investor - and it just doesn't work at all. As a bit of an unintentional comic treat there's a character in the crew called Mac, and well, the way Statham pronounces Mac and Meg is awfully similar. This is the kind of movie where no-one in the cast has a chance to shine really, but Winston Chao and Ruby Rose do their bits well enough. The script and dialogue are doing the cast no favours.
The Meg never really gets scary. It never lingers in any tense moments, and the casualties are quickly forgotten, which makes it even worse when it attempts to mourn the loss of someone. It's hard to peg what The Meg wants to achieve. It's not meant to be funny, even if there are funny bits; it can't seriously be meant to be romantic even if there are romantic scenes (which are massively awkward to look at); and for a shark movie there are surprisingly few actual scenes with sharks in them. The pacing is weird, and it just feels like it lacks any sort of focus that would make it successful in any of the things it attempts to do - even if it's competently filmed and clearly had a sizable budget to play with.
Any saving graces then? Well, the actual shark scenes and the action stuff is done with a bit of flair and is decent, Statham has clearly kept up his gym work, some scenes with the little girl are solid intermissions, and there is some nice underwater scenery before the shark starts going to work. Overall, however, this is one massive belly flop of a movie. This isn't something you want to see at the cinema, but rather save for bad movie night where you can try and see who amongst your friends does the best impression of Jason Statham's "It's Megalodon!" line...
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