The Meg, 2018.
Directed by Jon Turteltaub.
Starring Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, Page Kennedy, Jessica McNamee, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Robert Taylor, Sophia Shuya Cai, Masi Oka, and Cliff Curtis.
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.
“Jason Statham fights a massive shark,” sounds like a punch line, or some unused plot point from a yet to be made Crank film. But it’s not, and we should be thankful for it. Welcome The Meg; Statham’s Jaws, if Roy Scheider got a facelift.
There was a time in the late nineties/early noughties when these shark films were all the rage. The LL Cool J-has-a-parrot-come-morality-tale Deep Blue Sea, Open Water, The Reef and a fist load more of couple find themselves stranded in the sea with a shark. Then Snakes on a Plane, which although not strictly a shark film, has the same pulp trash aesthetic as the films it tried to build upon.
The Meg finds itself marooned between all of them. It’s a dumpster fire masquerading as a piece of performance art, a grandiose celebration of idiocy.
The Stath is Jonas Taylor, a one-time professional diver now drinking his sorrows away in a beach bar in Thailand following a botched rescue that resulted in multiple fatalities. When a submarine on a routine trip is marooned and under attack, Jonas must buckle up and face his fears.
Aboard a shiny underwater research facility, he encounters Rainn Wilson’s billionaire Morris, Bingbing Li’s Suyun and unbelievable tech genius Ruby Rose. Morris doesn’t care about the giant shark, he just likes money because, Suyun likes the Stath in a towel and also cares about the giant shark, and Ruby Rose likes computers.
At 113 minutes, it’s far too long, with an exposition filled prologue that tests patience. But once it gets going, it rollicks along like a B-Movie with a hefty budget.
Director Jon Turteltaub (of National Treasure fame) plays it safe for the most part, never going to the nasty extremities it so desperately wants to, nor the B-movie, sub-Syfy fodder it’s earnestly trying to one up. But the action sequences are bright, and with the rest of the film, supremely silly.
It’s at its best when it tries the least. Attempts at earnestness and a relationship between Suyun and Jonas fall flat and Turteltaub packs on the plotting with little care throughout.
It also finds itself lost amidst box ticking. A topless shower, scumbag billionaire, heroic Chinese ex-pat, charmingly multi-cultural crew of friends, lost loved ones, the list could go on and on.
But really, none of these matter. No one in their own right will be going to see The Meg for it’s plotting, nor it’s strange attempts at dissecting capitalism. The audience wants to see the Stah fight a massive shark with a small harpoon whilst swimming away, they want a prehistoric shark to pick a fight with the wrong man, and The Meg gives us that, just about.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★