The Meg Review

The Meg
When a deep sea research team discovers the existence of a megalodon — a 70-foot, supposedly extinct shark — they face a desperate race against time to stop it from eating everything.

by Chris Hewitt |
Published on
Release Date:

10 Aug 2018

Original Title:

The Meg

It may not shock you to hear this, but The Meg — a movie that apparently exists just so people can make jokes about Jason Statham punching a giant shark — is a bad film.

The Meg

What’s important, though, is to discern the level of intent from director Jon Turteltaub and his team. Have they genuinely stunk the joint out despite their best efforts? Or are they trying to have their cake and eat it too by making a knowingly awful film, a so-bad-it’s-good, ready-made cult classic? In short, are they in on the joke?

The Meg constantly reminds you that there are better films you could be watching instead.

Worryingly, apart from a couple of moments — one involving a very small dog and a very big fish, and the very last shot — the answer seems to be “no”. If Turteltaub had gone all-in on making this an oversized, toothy takedown of shark movies, The Meg could have been a winner. As it is, he’s made a film about a shark as big as a football pitch that still somehow commits the cardinal sin of being boring. It’s merely a compendium of leaden action sequences and terrible dialogue that could have been elevated to kitsch (“That living fossil ate my friend!”) had it been delivered by actors who were up to the task. Sadly, it’s not. While Rainn Wilson at least seems to be having fun, as the billionaire benefactor behind the project, he’s the only one. Most of the cast, from Cliff Curtis to Li Bingbing, are saddled with roles that can barely be described as archetypes. Not even The Stath, the patron saint of pulp, growling his way through proceedings as rescue diving ace Jonas Taylor like he’s playing some weird combo of Quint, Brody and Hooper, makes much of a dent.

Speaking of Jaws, Turteltaub knows that comparisons are inevitable and so wisely, one shark cage moment aside, largely gives Spielberg’s classic a swerve. Rightly so, as it’s not fit to splash around in the same water. The shark movie to which this owes the biggest debt, right down to certain character types and the odd death scene, is Renny Harlin’s schlockbuster Deep Blue Sea. But that was a knowingly awful film that effortlessly nailed the effortlessly entertaining edge-of-insanity tone. Instead, The Meg trails lazily in its wake, constantly reminding you — just as Skyscraper did with The Towering Inferno and Die Hard — that there are better films of its ilk that you could be watching instead.

Turteltaub and his writers at least try to keep things moving at a fair old lick, shifting the action from a claustrophobic base to the open sea and throwing in telegraphed twists every now and again just to keep things vaguely interesting. But the effects rarely rise above Sharknado level, and there’s a struggle to have the human characters interact with their huge co-star in a meaningful way. Does that mean that Jason Statham doesn’t punch a giant shark? We wouldn’t dream of spoiling it, but let’s just say if The Meg’s giant tongue had been lodged in its gargantuan cheek a touch more, this could have been the summer’s greatest guilty pleasure. Instead, it’s further proof you can’t make a silk purse out of a shark’s fin.

Shark. Weak.
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