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SHARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL
Meg 2: The Trench (15)
Director: Ben Wheatley
Screenplay: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, Dean Georgaris
Starring: Jason Statham, Jing Wu, Cliff Curtis
Review: RJ Bland
There were a handful of shark movies before Jaws (1975). White Death in 1936 was the first and the 1971 documentary film Blue Water White Death is worth a watch too. But none of them made any great waves (coughs* I’ll get my coat). But Spielberg’s masterpiece is the one that really created the shark movie sub-genre and elevated those incredible underwater specimens to arch villains. It’s a reputation that’s caused them considerable harm, and millions are killed every year with little reaction from the general public. But that’s another discussion altogether! Suffice to say that since Jaws, we’ve been scared shitless of sharks and there has been an almost constant demand for this stuff. Whilst nothing has come close to matching the raw terror of Spielberg’s tour de force, there have been some solid attempts. Deep Blue Sea (1999) is trashy but a lot of fun, Open Water (2003) is genuinely nerve-shredding and more recently, 47 Metres Down (2017) and The Shallows (2016) were both decent. We won't mention the Sharknado films...oh wait we just did. The biggest budget award however goes to Jon Turtletaub’s 2018 blockbuster, The Meg – loosely based on the Steve Alten novel. It was ok but didn’t really wow in the way that a film about a 75-foot shark probably should. It did make a killing at the box office (over $500m) so a sequel was always on the cards. Enter Meg 2: The Trench…
Set a few years after the events of its predecessor, Meg 2 finds Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) kicking ass as an environmental activist (or ‘extremist’ if you’re Suella Braverman) along with his ever-expanding posse of aquatic ninjas. We’ve got his old chum Mac (Cliff Curtis), his stepdaughter Meiying (Sophia Cai) and his brother in law Jiuming (Wu Jing) – as well as a load of others whose names you’ll soon forget. They work at a huge ocean-based facility where they study and monitor a Megaladon that they have raised from a pup. But it's not enough. For some reason, this group are determined to send submersibles deep into an area known as The Trench to see if there are any more megs down there (as well as any other new species). I mean, what could go wrong!? Turns out, quite a lot actually…
And that works both ways. A lot goes wrong for our characters once they descend into the trench. But there’s just a lot of things wrong with Meg 2: The Trench, full stop. Oppenheimer makes 180 minutes of middle-aged white men sitting around talking about science feel tense and engrossing. Meg 2 makes 120 minutes of giant sharks, prehistoric creatures and Jason Statham feel as dull as dishwater. It’s not as if our expectations are high either. As we’ve mentioned, the original Meg wasn’t brilliant. The baseline for the follow-up at the very least was to match its tolerable predecessor. But somehow Meg 2 manages to sink a good distance below that. A $120m film about colossal man-eating sharks that doesn’t take itself seriously should not be boring. But it is.
The sharks themselves are not terrible but neither are they particularly menacing either. But that’s mainly because the plot and characters are so poorly written. When you have a collection of forgettable one-dimensional characters doing stupid things, there’s little reason to care for their safety. Of course, we’re never really meant to get too attached to this line of fodder but the death scenes are so passive it barely registers who we’ve just lost. Statham is sort-of-watchable but like most of the cast, it feels as if he’s just going through the motions. There’s a real lack of energy and spark or any sense of chemistry between our ‘heroes’ and the result is that scenes that are meant to be fun and comedic often fall flat. The dialogue is cringeworthy too. Now whilst most of this is not Director Ben Wheatley’s fault (he didn’t write the script after all), his presence behind the camera has no positive impact on any of it. Come on man, you made Kill List. What happened?!
Like Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World Dominion (2022), Meg 2 sidelines its main attraction for the first two acts, instead making the daft decision to focus the action on aimless human drama and other ‘threats’. The villains of this whole debacle are so rudimentary, they’re not even worth discussion too (Poor Sienna Guillory). The last act admittedly changes things up a bit and there are brief moments of schlocky fun but it’s so repetitive and senseless, it feels like being hit over the head repeatedly with an inflatable shark.
Is any of it tense? Or funny? Or entertaining? It’s attempting the last two for sure, but it’s just so soulless. It feels like a film that’s been written by ChatGPT or something. Look, if you’ve got a spare two hours and have a hankering for some aquatic fun, our advice is to pop on Jaws. Or Deep Rising. Or Finding Nemo.
Meg 2 should have been a silly, action-packed summer blockbuster. Instead, it’s a tiresome, clunky and spiritless mess that should be left to die at the bottom of the ocean.
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