You know it, I know it, heck even Jason Statham knows it – The Meg is not to be taken seriously. Tongue firmly in cheek, the director Jon Turteltaub has put together a surprising summer blockbuster which tries to be as big as ‘The Meg’ itself. What it lacks in genuine scares and jumps it makes up for in entertainment and enjoyment.
Loosely Based on Steve Alten’s 1997 novel of the same name The Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror which came hot on the heels of Michael Crichton’s smash Jurassic Park, it seems prehistoric creatures were hot property back then. Sadly, the plot of the 2018 feature film was written from the 101 manual of disaster movies and follows the guidelines which are all so generic. The Stath plays Jonas Taylor, an ex-deep sea diver who is dragged back into action to help rescue a submersible dive team who are stuck at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Battling his past, he must face the mysterious monster that cost him his career and his reputation. It seems he wasn’t that crazy after all.
Frankly, films like this never match the buzz that surrounds them. If its a crazy plot, (looking at you Geostorm) or just from the name *cough Snakes on a Plane cough*, often the marketing is the best thing about them. Cool posters and clever tag lines can only go so far and thus The Meg was pretty much built around the idea of Jason Statham fighting a giant shark. It’s as simple as that. Surprisingly The Meg just about rises above those low expectations that come with B-movies, I mean its no Jaws (but what is). Think more along the lines of Deep Blue Sea. In a less safe and ensured pair hands this could be rubbing shoulders with the likes of the Sharknardo films. Luckily Jon Turteltaub is a director who has helmed some big films (National Treasure 1 & 2) with big set pieces and has a history of working with CGI (The Sorcerer Apprentice) . These are all important factors because he set out to make a proper movie, not just a film about a muscly action star punching a shark on the nose. Does he succeed? Not really, but it is a great attempt. What really lets the film down is the run of the numbers script. It truly has some dire dialogue. Luckily the willing cast attack it with gusto and conviction. Cliff Curtis looks like he is really enjoying himself.
The PG-13 rating does hamper and weigh the film down. It’s never really allowed to be let loose. The deaths are bloodless and get a bit samey after a while. (Its a big shark and one bite normally does the job). The problem with the shark is that it just doesn’t seem to impose a serious threat. For such a big shark it really should be more scary. Not that The Meg doesn’t look good. The visual effects work is better than expected. Time and money has been spent to ground the shark in reality, to try and make it believable. The Meg really shines when Jason Statham is taking centre stage. Whether he is being dragged behind a boat while the shark chases him (they use him as bait!) or interacting with the international cast, he really is at the forefront of everything good about the film. It really takes a certain type of actor to sell this kind of movie.
The Meg is a huge guilty pleasure which bounces along at a nice pace. More enjoyable than imaginable and in a summer of sequels, superheroes, and remakes The Meg is most shockingly quite refreshing. Yes it is very dumb and stupid but come on, what did we really expect?
Directed by: Jon Turteltaub
Cast: Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao