Five years ago, The Meg met expectations as a fairly entertaining time-squanderer about huge, prehistoric sharks. The trailers for the sequel (new director, more creatures) feature the sight of Jason Statham holding a barge-sized Megalodon at bay, on a dock, with his foot. Bring it, I thought. Time for a good-stupid movie with zero “think pieces” in its future.
So much for crazy expectations! In Meg 2: The Trench, Statham returns as Jonas, now an “eco-terrorist” protector of the seas from radioactive dumping and other indignities.
The sequel goes for a wider tonal range, let’s call it, than the original, notably with lots more comic relief. Plus more 75-foot sharks (and an octopus, size XXXXL) among its new digital cast members.
Sadly, a deadening percentage of Meg 2 concerns a “rogue mining operation” nearly five miles below the ocean’s surface. Precious metals are down there, begging to be extracted. An explosion rocks the trench of the sequel’s title, letting loose various Megs and the thing with tentacles.
Meantime, Statham and his crew take on the mercenaries, which leads to many stabbings and shootings and ocean-littering corpses. The cleanup part goes unaddressed.
Director Ben Wheatley, chained to a screenplay no better with its wisecracks than its straight-ahead plot, is stuck telling a weak story, heavy on underwater and computer-generated visual murk. Scene to scene, jump scare to jump scare, Meg 2 gets a D-minus for clarity. Half the time, you don’t know who’s where, or who’s for lunch.
The Statham character’s lack of excitement is contagious. “Great,” he mutters, rolling his eyes shark-style and sounding like he’s been in line at the post office for an hour. “More Megs.”
Things perk up a bit in the final 30 minutes, which recycle and expand on the first Meg movie’s climax. Sidelined for much of their own movie, the hangry predators day-trip it out of the trench and wage an assault on a vacation resort called Fun Island.
Speedy, sharp-toothed land-dwellers emerge from the water and come along for the kill and Statham’s crew has to deal with them — while fighting off the chief mercenary (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) employed by a character we’ll call Spoy Lurr Ullert.
Jonas is doing it all for the love of his teenage stepdaughter (Sophia Cai). Jing Wu plays her intrepid uncle, with standout supporting player honours going to Melissanthi Mahut, as the toughest, coolest addition to Jonas’ undersea exploration crew. She may not get the screen time she deserves, but neither do the Megs.
If there’s any larger question provoked in this oh-whatever of a sequel, it’s this: Can digital sea monsters fire their AI talent agents in order to find better representation? – Michael Phillips/Chicago Tribune/Trigune News Service
Sinks faster than a half-chewed villain.