Meg 2: The Trench review (2023) – More sharks, but not enough action

Sorry Jason Statham and shark movie fans. But the Meg 2: The Trench just falls short on its promise to be one of the most fun new action movies of 2023.

Meg 2 review: Jason Statham in the Meg 2 with a giant shark behind him

Our Verdict

The last act gives fans what they want but ultimately Meg 2: The Trench can't live up to the fun that was its 2018 predecessor.

Ever since Steven Spielberg released Jaws in 1975, Hollywood has had a fascination with replicating its success with shark-filled movies. However, with decades of flicks being released since the ’70s, it’s safe to say that we now have an oversaturated market filled with these perfect aquatic predators.

We’ve had good shark movies, we’ve had bad shark movies, and although some are predictable, we’ve forgiven a lot of shaky scripts for the sake of being delightfully entertained. But seldom do we get a toothy monster of a film like Meg 2: The Trench, which is just, dare I say, boring.

Directed by Ben Wheatley, Meg 2 is the follow-up to the 2018 box office smash hit, The Meg. Based on Steven Alten’s Meg series, The Meg told the story of the rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) and a group of scientists encountering a massive prehistoric shark while on a rescue mission in the Mariana Trench. The 2018 film was popcorn action movie splendor at its finest, giving us shark attacks, mild thrills, and a sense of discovery that everyone could enjoy.

In fact, I’d argue that The Meg is one of the best shark movies you can watch if you are after a tame but action-filled flick for the whole family. So, needless to say, Meg 2: The Trench had certain expectations to meet. No one expected this new movie to be a masterpiece, but fans are looking for a fun man vs. giant shark story packed with humor, set pieces, and deep-sea fun.

However, with a stale dramatic script that drags on and three Megalodons surprisingly sidelined until the film’s last act, Meg 2 feels less like a blast and more like an echo of its predecessor’s former glory.

Written by Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, and Dean Georgaris, Meg 2: The Trench’s script at times feels like a bullet point list, taking us from one point to the next without any form of story development or stakes. The film isn’t concerned with creating feelings of dread or tension that you’d expect from a story where three giant sharks are introduced and stalking the dark water.

Instead of focused man-eating shark action, Meg 2 throws Jonas back into the Mariana Trench, uncovering a rogue mining conspiracy operation that has some kind of negative effect on the ecosystem. This is never really unpacked, despite being the focal plot point.

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Listen, as I mentioned above, no one is expecting an impressive script from Meg 2: The Trench, despite its amazing source material with Alten’s novels. And to be clear, there is also fun to be had when shark movies forgo logic and deliberately lean into their ridiculousness, such as the Sharknado series or gems like the 2015 film 3-Headed Shark Attack.

The problem is that Meg 2 takes its first two acts and this mining narrative seriously, throwing in odd one-liners that seldom land to try and distract from the narrative’s lagging pace. The film doesn’t know its tone, and struggles to give us enough thrills to be an action movie, enough scares to be a horror, and enough reveals to be a drama movie.

Its narrative is left to flounder until its final act finally gives fans what they want, man-eating monsters chowing down. Remember how The Meg saw the giant shark reach a beach and wreak havoc? Well, Meg 2: The Trench follows the same idea as the 2018 movie. However, this time around, three sharks head to a popular resort, along with some hungry amphibian dinosaurs and a giant squid.

Meg 2 review: a woman on a floatie with a meg in the water

Mining is forgotten altogether, with the campy anti-eco villains only making brief appearances while the creatures steal the show. If you can sit through the first half of Meg 2, you’ll witness thrilling fights, great action that takes cues from Jurassic Park, and the entire Meg 2 cast having a blast. Page Kennedy as DJ and Statham shine in these action-adventure scenes, making us smile with their energy as they fully commit to the ludicrous logic of battling ancient sharks.

However, even though these seat-gripping moments reminded me why I fell in love with this franchise in the first place, Meg 2: The Trench left me feeling hollow. All the moments to love in Meg 2 were done before and done better in The Meg.

Meg 2 review: a diver looking at a meg pup in the Meg 2

Meg 2: The Trench had the opportunity to go darker than the first film, lean more into the novels, and utilize Wheatley’s experience as a director with horror. But it didn’t. It played it safe. In my mind, The Meg had the potential to be the next Fast and the Furious kind of franchise. However, Meg 2: The Trench feels largely like a misfire with only a handful of fun redeemable scenes.

Meg 2: The Trench is out in cinemas now. For more on the film, you can read our guides on how to watch Meg 2 and if Meg 2 has a post-credit scene. We also have an article exposing the true story behind The Meg.

For more top picks, here are our lists of the best monster movies and the best movies of all time.