Directed by: Jon Turtletaub
Written by: Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber
Starring: Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Shuya Sophia Cai & Cliff Curtis
Running time: 1 hr. 53 mins.
There exists one great shark movie. I’m referring of course to Steven Spielberg’s iconic blockbuster– the first blockbuster– Jaws; a film so terrifying that to this day we all think twice before slipping on our floaters and popping into the ocean for a dip.
Hollywood, however, has only been emboldened throughout the years to keep diving back into these familiar, now shark-infested waters. More recent theatrically released shark movies like 47 Meters Down or The Shallows have been dramatically serious and played for scares while digitally available home releases have tended to play up the campiness of the shark sub-genre that’s emphasized in movies such as Sharknado (don’t get me started on House Shark).
The Meg tonally floats somewhere in between. It’s not overly serious but nor does it deeply sink its teeth into the self-referential, tongue-in-cheek silliness that the film’s marketing has been selling us on. The film clearly has schlocky, “B” creature feature aspirations but more often than not settles for safe and predictable action.
A slightly more smiley Jason Statham does exactly what you’d expect him to do as a deep-sea rescue diver/action hero Jonas Taylor, who reluctantly must return to a life he’d sworn off five years earlier after an underwater expedition gone tragically awry (just when he thought he was out, they pull him back in!). This includes but is not limited to: delivering fondue-laden, shark-themed one-liners– some work but most don’t– and walking around shirtless and of course saving the damsel in distress from the enormous jaws of a 75-foot man-eating shark thought to have been long-extinct.
In The Meg that damsel is a deep-sea researcher named Suyin (Bingbing Li). She’s the spunky daughter of renowned oceanographer, Zhang (Winston Choa), and loving mother of an equally spirited little girl by the name of Meiying (Sophia Cai). The two ladies have good chemistry with Statham but the romance between Jonas and Suyin goes unearned and feels obnoxiously forced.
When the titular shark is on screen, it’s the focus of some well-crafted and intense scares. And director Jon Turtletaub (of the National Treasure movies) impressively balances a lot of those scares with a couple truly funny gags throughout the course of the film. In particular the beach scene that’s depicted heavily in the film’s marketing is a monster movie riot.
Unfortunately, The Meg sinks whenever the megalodon is not on screen, which is much of the movie. In fact it’s nowhere to be seen for the first twenty minutes. In these cases the movie strands its audiences with walking, talking clichés with cringe-inducing dialogue. If you’re not prone to seasickness, you still may feel like heaving your lunch at all the obvious and unnatural things these people are given to say.
The Meg is at best a $5 Tuesday bargain movie.
Have you had the pleasure of experiencing The Meg? If so, what did you think? If not, what’s stopping you? I want to hear from you so hit me up in the comments below!