Jason Statham fighting a giant shark sounds like a recipe for a good, silly, fun summer blockbuster. It is inexcusable that the result, The Meg is so inexplicably dull. This is the equivalent of a beautiful online date that has a great profile and seems interesting but turns out to be very boring and cannot hold a decent conversation.
The film opens up with the Warner Bros. logo underwater. We then see the title and immediately jump into the action as we watch a deep sea rescue led by our hero Jason Statham in an underwater trench near the Philippines. The Meg features a lot of underwater shots with noticeable CGI creatures, none of them, not even the title shark really look that convincing. I will credit The Meg this much, the fact that many of the underwater shots early on give the overall cinematography of the film a unique quality since it is different looking than the average studio action picture. But that is one of the very few cool qualities The Meg has to offer. The first twenty minutes are engaging. The rest of it is as by the numbers as you can get and with director John Turteltaub at the helm. The guy who directed 3 Ninjas (1992), National Treasure (2004) and Last Vegas (2013), I guess you should expect nothing more. Which is a shame because on paper everything should have worked great, but on the screen, nothing in the story or the visuals stood out as memorable.
The Meg does make good use of Jason Statham’s action star power and he is easily the best part of the film. The rest of the movie flops around like a fish on the sand, not a dominant sea creature that knows their purpose. Some lines contain humor that only a thirteen-year-old boy would find funny, there is a feeble explanation for why a little girl is on this dangerous, one of a kind, underwater research station, and the plot is as predictable as you can imagine. The biggest mistake the filmmakers took was investing so much of the runtime into following the scripts slow and mundane plot instead of focusing on the reason most people will pay for a ticket to The Meg, to see a giant shark and great action visuals surrounding the shark. This movie did not take the ‘guilty pleasure’ route. The filmmakers took the script very seriously and like Jaws (1975), the audience does not get a clear look at the shark until well into the second hour. Did they really think we would care about these characters? If so they failed miserably. These characters make ludicrous decisions (because the screenplay forces them) so it is hard to care about which ones live or die, other than Jason Statham, his unintersting love interest and her daughter that works as a contrived plot device. Those are the only three that are not expendable.
Bad dialogue, an indifferent music score, and reliance on a subpar plot rather than just delivering awesome visuals and giant shark fun are what ultimately sink The Meg. Plus, it is very annoying how many shots feature unnecessary use of a fancy wristwatch onscreen. There are times where The Meg felt more like an elaborate watch commercial than an actual movie. Product placement is very important in this movie and someone could probably edit this two-hour movie into a great thirty-second watch commercial. In fact, if they did that it would probably be better than sitting through The Meg.
Skip The Meg. It should have known better than to try and emulate Jaws. So instead stay home and check out some self-aware aquatic monster movies that are not great, but at least more fun. Deep Rising (1998), Deep Blue Sea (1999), and Pirhana 3D (2010) are all guilty pleasure B-movies that have their charms.
Deep Rising (1998)
Instead of the Deep Blue Sea trailer, here is the stupid but fun LL Cool J music video of the theme song. It serves the same purpose and it pretty catchy.
Liked Statham, Rainn, and the kid. Everyone else? Probably the worst collective performances in a movie this year. The writing ain’t great, but man, does everyone sound stiff. I’m glad it wasn’t Sharknado 2-5 bad where trying to be bad is just bad and dull, but it felt like it was trying too hard to be emotional too. Kind of odd tonally.
I agree the tone was all over the place. Made me appreciate ‘Deep Blue Sea’ more than ever.