Director: Jon Turteltaub
Starring: Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao, Sophia Cai, Ruby Rose, Page Kennedy, Robert Taylor
Written by: Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber and (based on the novel “Meg”) Steve Alten
Running Time: 113 mins
Release date: 10th August 2018
One of the more bizarre phenomena in the film world has been the low budget series of films about sharks, whether they be giant monsters jumping out of the sea to attack passenger planes, or raining down in tornadoes. It would have only been a matter of time for a major Hollywood studio to cash in on the minor successes and so we get The Meg, the story of one man going head to head with a 70-foot Megalodon. Sadly, this fails to get into the “so bad, it’s good” category which it should have been aiming for.
A scientific unit has been exploring the depth of the ocean when they discovered a cloud form that beyond hides a world never seen before. When three of the team find themselves under attack and trapped, they send for Jonas Taylor, a former Naval officer, to save them. What he finds is that the submersible trapped has been attacked by a 70-foot long Megalodon, thought to be extinct. What makes matters worse is that the shark escapes and needs to be hunted down before it finds civilization.
The Meg has everything you would want from a big, dumb, Summer blockbuster. A star who doesn’t mind being in ridiculous movies; a creature that has sent shivers up the spine ever since Steven Spielberg turned it into a star in Jaws; a premise that doesn’t demand a great deal of brain work. So what went wrong?
The problem is Spielberg’s 1975 classic. In that one movie, he managed to cover everything you needed in a shark film. You had the attacks, in all their gory details. You had man taking on the monster and you had that music, which everyone knows. So The Meg fails to offer anything we haven’t seen before, even though there is a difference in size compared to Bruce. In fact, what the film does offer is an insight into how movies used to be made before the #MeToo campaign.
You may be wondering what I mean by that. This is a Chinese co-production with Warner Bros and so we get Asian stars alongside the Americans. Scientist Suyin may have the heart of a hero but every time she goes to do some daring-so, she ends up having to be saved by the male, something that certainly hasn’t been seen in movies ever since the scandals in Hollywood broke.
The film also offers some questioning, particularly what mother would take their 8-year-old to a research facility in the middle of the ocean 200 miles off the coast of China? Why would you hire a researcher to work on a research facility in the middle of the ocean 200 miles off the coast of China, who couldn’t swim?
Even with these contrivances, the film comes across as pretty ordinary. The thrills are not that thrilling and due to the low classification, the horror is kept to a minimum, with very little in blood and guts. So it’s up to the charisma of the lead to pull it through. Jason Statham taking on a giant shark sounds like a dream package but even he cannot lift this from mundane. we want to see him deliver one-liners after a moment of action. We want to see him punching people to get his own way. We want a one-on-one faceoff with the shark. We get very little of any of this.
The Meg should have been a bonkers ride but the trouble is, everyone seems to believe they are making Jaws 2. It’s not Jaws. It’s not even Deep Blue Sea. In fact, I wanted to watch Megashark vs Giant Octopus because at least it knows its rubbish. This fails to excite in any way and it ends up dead in the water.