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.
In Jason Statham’s action hero career, he’s fought assassins, sought revenge against Vin Diesel and raced to the death, but now he’s taking his exploits to new territory by hunting down a prehistoric megalodon in The Meg. The film features some ludicrous action scenes, fantastic deaths and plenty of mayhem to go around as the characters try to prevent the meg from getting out into the world. As over the top as The Meg is, it isn’t quite a guilty pleasure as it tries to mix together crazy B-movie elements with something just a little serious, but fails to do so. It is entertaining and the blu-ray features some good insight into the making of the film, but its also fairly forgettable.
Jason Statham is the star of the show as Jonas Taylor, a deep dive rescuer brought out of retirement to save a submersible crew after an attack by the titular megalodon. He doesn’t really give much in the way of charisma as he’s fairly stoic throughout the majority of the film, but does allow some moments of levity to his character. It should come as no surprise that the area where Statham is really committed is the physical aspects of Taylor’s character by performing many of the stunts himself. He does share some good onscreen chemistry with most of the cast though and has a good, if predictable, arc in the film as Taylor has to confront past guilt and make up for them.
Most of the cast is just as over the top as Statham is, particularly Rainn Wilson’s billionaire investor or Ólafur Darri Ólafsson’s researcher. At times it almost seems like there’s too many characters the film juggles with as some secondary characters don’t get enough screentime or simply disappear for a while, such as Jessica McNamee’s Lori who gets rescued by Taylor (and also happens to be his ex-wife). The Meg also tries to add some emotional drama to the mix with varying results as a few people distrust Taylor’s mental state or they mourn the loss of friends and this is where the film loses some of its momentum. It tries to have its cake and eating it too by knowingly be a silly-but-fun B-movie yet adding so much human drama to the mix. It doesn’t really succeed on that front and just slows everything else down. It doesn’t help that the story follows some predictable beats, offering just just a couple rare surprises to its proceedings.
When the film does focus on its carnage, it really revels in it. The graphics on the megalodon look pretty great and makes it quite a fearsome and intimidating creature. There are quite a few jump scares involved with it, most a bit predictable and some real surprises, but the scenes involving the meg are pretty entertaining. It really kicks into high gear during the moments Taylor faces down the meg himself, especially in the climax of the film as the crew and hundreds of innocent swimmers are at risk. It places more emphasis on the cinematic fun of the chase and fight than on inducing tension and though there’s little emotional connection to the stakes, its still entertaining to watch.
The features on the blu-ray are few, but offer a couple good looks at the film’s production. ‘Creating the Beast’ looks at how the visual effects on the leg were accomplished, particularly in the creation of the creature itself. The filmmakers decided to be influenced by quite a few different sharks instead of making it just a giant-sized Great White and how the meg would differ from other onscreen sharks. Given that the meg’s design is one of the best aspects of the film, its quality shows in this feature. ‘Chomp on This: The Making of The Meg’ details the level of stuntwork involved for Statham and the rest of the cast, particularly how difficult shooting on and in the water was for some of them. There is also a short video on the film’s production in New Zealand and what it meant for the cast and filmmakers to be there. It doesn’t really offer much insight into why they chose New Zealand to film some of The Meg though, feeling more like an ad for the country rather than a behind the scenes look at the production.
The Meg can be entertaining, but when it tries to rise above its over-the-top nature and deliver some more serious elements it doesn’t succeed. Jason Statham and the cast know what type of film their making, a fact which makes the emotional scenes fall flat. There is plenty of monster action and its enjoyable to see Jason Statham literally hanging onto a megalodon while trying to avoid its teeth, but the film’s predictable story and bad serious aspects make it rather forgettable. The special features offer some nice insight into the making of the film and its good for one watch, but its rewatch ability is in serious doubt. Fans of B-movies and sharks should enjoy this, but they not not remember it very much.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★