The Meg Review
Watching the trailer for The Meg it was hard to tell if Statham and co. were knowingly going full-Sharknado or making an action thriller with a face straighter than The Stath’s stubble line. An hour and forty minutes later there’s still no way of knowing but either way it doesn't really mater. This may be as dumb as it gets but there is a lot of fun to be had watching an underwater Stath-Off between one of our favourite action heroes and an enormous swimming fossil.
The budget for this US/Chinese production apparently spiralled up to $150 million, meaning it will have its work cut out trying to turn around a half-decent profit. That said, it is the perfect trashy popcorn flick for a Friday or Saturday night and will send the irony-meter spiralling out of control in most auditoriums. Love it or hate it, most cinema-goers will have a whale of a time one way or the other.
Director Jon Turteltaub understands that people want to see plenty of heroic Statham delivering droll one-liners. And he doesn't fail to deliver. Here he is Jonas Taylor, an ex-deep sea rescue expert who is a washed up drunk living in Thailand having retired following a terrible accident that killed several of his colleagues. Although, for an alcoholic he’s still in pretty good nick with the six pack under his shirt as defined as those being chilled in his fridge.
Most of the action takes place off the coast of China on board and below a billion dollar research ship that is half tanker on deck, and half spaceship in the hull. Morris (Rainn Wilson) is the man funding the exploration of the hidden depths of the ocean but there is only man who can help save a team who are being stalked by a giant monster. When Dr. Zhang (Winston Chao) and Mac (Cliff Curtis) visit Jonas to tell him his ex-wife is one of those in peril he suits up into his scuba gear faster than he can neck a pint.
The Megalodon was once a real-life super shark swimming around the prehistoric oceans but it seems the family bloodline hasn’t completely dried up. For that we should be thankful because it gives us man versus giant carnivorous fish, although this isn’t just any man. This is The Stath, a guy who eats fear for breakfast and sends monsters swimming home with their tails between their fins. Just when The Meg thinks he is about to chow down on a mid-afternoon snack, Statham is always one step (or stroke) ahead.
Turteltaub‘s adaptation of Steve Alten’s book keeps its foot on the accelerator for most of the journey, never leaving the action off-screen for too long. The jump scares start to pile up along with the body count and there are a few satisfying kills that might swing you over to the side of the killer beast. According to the director a more gory version exists but whether or not those scenes make it onto a Blu-ray release remains to be seen. And yet, despite all the implausible action the show is stolen by Pippin the Dog later in the film (surely a nod to Pippet the Labrador from Jaws).
Considering the budget involved the CGI is less than impressive at times and the performances are all over the place but it all adds to the awfulness and ridiculous nature of the story. The Meg is a film that offers no pretensions and even fewer surprises and makes no excuses for it. There is little point comparing it to Jaws because despite the obvious connections they exist on two completely different filmmaking planets. Maybe a less on-the-nose director could’ve dragged more out of this simple idea but box office performance permitting, you can be sure this isn’t the last we’ve seen of The Meg.