Jon Turteltaub’s The Meg wants you to think it knows the balance between exciting thriller and big, dumb, late-summer action flick but never finds a comfortable balance to be anything particularly entertaining. The greatest sin a movie like The Meg could commit is to be boring and that’s exactly what it does.
Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is haunted by his past, which caused him to give up his life as a deep-sea explorer after a mission on a submarine goes awry. The guilt is too much, the ridicule unbearable and Jonas vows never to dive into the ocean again. In the tried-and-true trope of “I was almost out but they sucked me back in,” he is called upon to help save a trio of stranded explorers, which might give some credence to his claim that there is some kind of monster lurking in the ocean.
“…haunted by his past, which caused him to give up his life as a deep-sea explorer after a mission on a submarine goes awry.”
Eccentric billionaire Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson) has funded a research facility on a rig, where Jonas is brought to for his expertise. They’re there for one exploration (who cares, really?) but the focus turns to the megalodon that’s roaming the ocean. In movie fashion, the entire team moves from the rig to the water, just so Statham try and save them all one-by-one. Winston Chao, Li Bingbing, Ruby Rose and Page Kennedy co-star as members of the crew.
We’ve seen our fair share of shark movies, which inevitably all end up standing in the shadow of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, the granddaddy of summer blockbusters. There are moments where The Meg knowingly winks to Jaws – hell, it even tries to be a bit Jurassic Park, too. The Meg isn’t here to reinvent the wheel and, honestly, who could expect it to? It’s really supposed to provide cheap thrills as the summer winds down but almost entirely comes up empty on that front.
“…Statham…snarls his way through a movie while being the toughest guy in the room.”
I’ve bemoaned here that the rinse-and-repeat nature of someone like Dwayne Johnson’s movie has become tiresome and stops being exciting when he continues to make the same movie against a different backdrop. Same could be said for Statham, who shows up and snarls his way through a movie while being the toughest guy in the room. We’ve seen him do that in countless movies before and he will continue to work within his niche but it would be nice to see him find more supporting work in movies like Spy, which offered a side of the actor we don’t get to see. It’s a shame because he was terrific in that.
The Meg had free license to show up in theaters and just be a stupid spectacle and it doesn’t capitalize on that at all. How often do film critics beg for a movie to be dumber? While The Meg yammers on about research and expeditions before the eventful Statham and shark showdown, you’ll be wondering why you aren’t home watching something like 47 Meters Down. If you need a shark fix, that tense B-movie gets what it’s supposed to do. The Meg is simply toothless.
The Meg (2018) Directed by Jon Turteltaub. Written by Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, and Eric Hoeber. Starring Jason Statham, Rainn Wilson, Li Bingbing, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao and Page Kennedy.
3 out of 10