Review - 'The Meg'
With Jon Turteltaub's 'The Meg', what you see is exactly what you get. The trailer showed Jason Statham confronting a giant shark. 'Nuff said. If you were hoping that this would be a ludicrous B-movie akin to Piranha, well, you're not going to get it here, but as I said, you will get Jason Statham fighting a shark, and that does amount to something in the end.
The Meg follows Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), a man who has sworn off deep sea diving after a rescue mission went awry. When his ex-wife becomes trapped deep under the ocean in a damaged submarine, Taylor reluctantly agrees to rescue her, only it turns out that what caused the damage is a prehistoric shark known only as a Megalodon.
It's a little disappointing what The Meg turned out to be. From the trailers, this looked like it was going to fully embrace its B-movie trappings and give audiences a bonkers-insane giant shark movie. There is a giant shark, but this movie decides to split the difference between the serious tone of Jaws and the zany comedic beats of Piranha resulting in a film that can't fully commit to a direction. The first half of the movie is actually played pretty seriously, and even when the movie does inevitably go into more campy territory, it still seems muted, as if the filmmakers were afraid to go crazy with their already crazy premise. That said, it's still an engaging movie to watch; there's always shark-related thrills around each and every corner, even though it's not as bombastic as you might have anticipated.
What gives The Meg a pass, but only barely, is the fact that it is able to emulate the feelings of dread in Jaws reasonably well. Granted, the first half of this movie is a bit slow, but they do establish the Meg as a creature not to by toyed with. Lives are lost and there are some pretty innovative sequences that highlight the enormity and ferociousness of said beast. It's just too bad that the latter half of the film doesn't completely go wild with it. Yes, there's a beach sequence which sounds like it would be loads of fun when you throw a giant shark into the mix, but it really doesn't last long as I would have hoped. Most of our time is spent in an underwater facility or on a yacht of sorts as our main characters try to keep the shark from reaching more populated areas.
The actors in The Meg get the job done. Jason Statham plays a game of "what would Jason Statham do if he were fighting a giant shark?" and calls it a day. It's a good thing that Statham has natural charisma and doesn't even have to lift a shark harpoon (don't worry, he does) for us all to root for him. Bingbing Li plays second fiddle to Statham as a self-made woman named Suyin, who isn't afraid to get down and dirty with the shark alongside the leading man. Her performance here isn't exceptional, but she does manage to find some decent chemistry with Statham. Rainn Wilson is also cashing a paycheck here as Morris, the CEO of the who operation. Virtually all of his quips fall flat, but for some reason, it is sort of in keeping with the character he's playing. Ruby Rose plays Jaxx, the woman behind all of the advanced technology used by the team. She's supposed to be the"smart one who's also a punk badass, but we've seen that plenty of times before, again, not a good performance, but not bad enough to be distracting.
As far as an end-of-summer movies go, The Meg is perfectly serviceable and Jason Statham is an ever-reliable lead that is always able to command the screen, even if all of his roles are nearly indistinguishable from one another. All that said, it's a pretty forgettable experience that is surprisingly scant when it comes to "WOW" moments. I mean, you have a huge budget, Jason Statham and a giant shark to play around with in your sandbox, there should have been more here. The Meg will not surprise you in any way, nor will you feel cheated by watching it, it's simply there to entertain, and entertain you again on TV a couple years later when it randomly comes on and reminds you that it exists.