2018’s The Meg had a devilishly simple premise; action man Jason Statham faces off against a giant, prehistoric shark, a megalodon. I mean, who needs a plot or themes when the premise alone is this great? It should have been dumb fun, a film filled with spectacle and ass-kickery.
Unfortunately, The Meg was a dull and disappointing affair. There simply wasn’t enough Meg action, and the film took itself far too seriously. Yet, a sequel was inevitable, even if no one really wanted it.
British director Ben Wheatley, who’s made a name for himself for cool and collected cult films such as Kill List, Sightseers and High Rise, was attached to Meg 2 and all of a sudden, shark-hungry audiences were filled with hope once more. Could we get a classy, action-packed Meg film after all?
Well, dear reader, it is my great pleasure to say that Meg 2: The Trench has more teeth, more prehistoric creatures, and it is far better than its predecessor. Is it perfect? No, but it is an improvement.
Statham returns to the role of Jonas Taylor, a rescue diver turned Meg specialist. Taylor and a crew of scientists, including Jiuming (Wu Jing), DJ (Page Kennedy), Mac (Cliff Curtis) and Driscoli (Sienna Guillory). Jiuming, the brother of Suyin from the first film, has developed tech which allows the crew to go past the thermocline separating our ocean and the trench with the Megs.
Without spoiling too much, the crew are in for a surprise once they descend down to the ocean bottom. Taylor and co. have to find a way out of the trench without being eaten and then deal with escaped creatures wreaking havoc on a tourist beach.
Meg 2 does everything bigger and, mostly, better. The film opens with a segment set 65 million years ago, establishing the Meg as the apex predator as it munches on a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The opening was glimpsed in the trailers for the film, and surprisingly, Meg 2 might make a great double bill with this year’s dino romp 65.
For fans of Wheatley’s earlier work, Meg 2 offers very little. Wheatley is clearly letting loose with a big-budget action film and the liberties it brings, but the film is helplessly disposable and forgettable. The CGI looks dreadful, and the creatures, big and small, look rubbery and unfinished.
That being said, Meg 2 is still tremendous fun. It’s a gleefully dumb and deliciously ridiculous affair. Meg 2 is funnier than its predecessor and more self-aware, even if it still succumbs to trying to make certain aspects of the film too serious. After all, no one watches a film about prehistoric sharks for the plot. They watch it for the mayhem. Meg 2 is unapologetically silly, as it should be.
The film’s first half plays almost like a film from the Alien franchise. The ocean bottom feels like space; it’s cold and unforgiving, with danger lurking behind every rock. The second half takes a page out of Piranha’s book, with a tourist beach proving a fabulous smorgasbord for the prehistoric creatures from beneath the surface. Meg 2 is rated 12A in the UK and PG-13 in the US, which, disappointingly, forces Wheatley to hold back on the gore.
Meg 2: The Trench isn’t great, but it’s a perfectly fun way to spend two hours. The increase in action, humour, and Statham’s magnetic charisma carry it over the finish line. Meg 2 does exactly what it says on the tin, and really, what more could we ask for?
Meg 2: The Trench is now in cinemas.