Movie Review: The Meg.
This uninspired fin-fest starring Jason Statham won’t scare anyone out of the water…out of theaters maybe…but not the water.
This Sunday we conclude August with our Double Dare Review of not just one, but TWO terrible shark movies: Sharktopus and Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark. While we prepare ourselves for that ordeal, I decided to check out the current shark flick at the theaters, The Meg. Unfortunately, this late summer blockbuster never takes off its water wings, preferring to splash around in the shallow end of the creature feature pool.
The Meg (2018)
An international team of deep sea scientists aboard a state of the art sea lab make a breakthrough discovery: a layer of super-chilled sea water has sealed off an area of the ocean. This habitat is teaming with long lost lifeforms, including a gigantic prehistoric shark – the megalodon. When some of the exotic species attack and disable the team’s sub with three explorers aboard, they are forced to rely on a disgraced deep-sea diver for help. Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is the only diver to perform a rescue at that depth. Unfortunately, he lost two friends on that dive and quit in shame. He reluctantly agrees to help, but with the Meg down there, he may have bit off more than he can chew.
It’s Not Bad…
The Meg is a competently made film. The acting is solid, the dialogue avoids being clunky (mostly) and the visuals are proficient. The pacing is probably the high point as director Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure, Cool Running) moves through the motions succinctly. Just enough exposition, a few early scares and visual reveals, some character building, some action, a twist, and then the big finale. It’s nothing revolutionary, but it feels like a movie.
If that all sounds like damning with faint praise…you’re absolutely right.
It’s Just Not Good.
The Meg is the most unambitious summer flick I’ve seen in a while. Even Michael Bay at least tries to get some sort of reaction out of you with his dumb fluff. This film steers into every safe and expected trope for an action flick featuring sharks. If you close your eyes and picture a movie about Jason Statham trying to catch a giant shark, congratulations, you’ve seen the Meg! To be honest, your version is probably a little more exciting.
The scares are predictable and paltry. The action sequences never grow a set of balls, and come off as generic. The cast are mostly stock characters, where they’re not obviously pandering to the target Chinese demographic. There’s no scope and grandeur to the giant shark, and it never does anything that a regular old shark wouldn’t suffice to accomplish. It’s a waste, really.
Dare to be Different!
Maybe it’s wrong to expect anything exciting from a big dumb shark movie. The Meg certainly doesn’t even live up to what little hope I had for a mindless summer action flick. It wants to be respectable, but refuses to invest in either frights or interesting characters. It wants to give us some red meat with Jason Statham, but refuses to lean into the gonzo premise and let the body parts fly. There’s not a memorable kill in the whole damn thing. At least in The Shallows, each kill was a gloriously visceral affair. Several years later I still remember each one. Several years from now, I doubt I’ll remember a damned thing about this film…other than I overpaid for dippin’ dots.