I walked into The Meg fully expecting it to be dogshit stupid. I was hoping it would be stupid-fun, something along the lines of this: During the climactic sequence, just as Jason Statham is about to deliver the Stone Cold Stunner to the Megalodon, The Rock jumps out of the Megaladon’s mouth and kicks Jason Statham in the nuts. Then, in an M. Night Shyamalan-esque twist, we learn that The Meg is actually the prelude to the next Fast & Furious film. That I didn’t get The Rock v. Jason Statham: Dawn of the Megalodons is a letdown. That I got a movie with legitimately fun characters is a pleasant surprise.
For those of you hoping that this review would be me taking giant shits on the movie, get ready to be utterly disappointed. Look, I’m not saying The Meg is gonna get a Best Picture nomination at next year’s Oscars. This movie is about a man taking on a pre-historic thought to be extinct Megalodon, and WINNING for Christ’s sake. Of course, it’s stupid. I’m saying that I wasn’t bored out of my freaking mind nor did I feel like my brain was melting out of my earholes with each passing second. I’m saying it isn’t Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
I’m going to skim over most of the plot machinations because I’m assuming you’ve watched movies before or know your ABCs. We have pro diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), who’s called back by the research facility he once worked for when an unknown entity attacks their submarine. The unknown entity is revealed to be a megalodon and Jason Statham is revealed to be a badass, who not only can dive really well and fight a pre-historic shark, he can also get his ex-wife to encourage him to date her much hotter boss. And then there’s shark chasing and shark fighting yadda yadda yadda.
The biggest twist of the movie is that this isn’t a Jason Statham solo act that I expected to be. Nono, of course, he has plenty of heroic moments and you bet your ass, he saves the hot girl (Bingbing Li) right in the nick of time. The twist is that the hot chick is also really smart, and though she needed Jason Statham to save her ass a couple of times, she proves to be both highly capable and courageous. In fact, the entire crew consists of highly capable people who have a reasonably important role to play. They also break stereotypes.
The tech-y isn’t a scrawny boy who’s scared of everything and yells a lot. Here, she’s played by Ruby Rose, who looks like she can kick your ass while hacking into classified files. The ex-wife (Jessica McNamee) isn’t there for the sake of being the jealous biatch who stirs up drama. It’s acknowledged that their marriage didn’t work out because they’re different types of people but they remain friends. The little kid isn’t an annoying dumbass who makes silly decisions and then sits in a corner and wails. Here, the 8-year-old (played charmingly by Sophia Cai) is mature, witty and knows not to sneak inside the submarine when the adults go on their mission. The billionaire (Rainn Wilson) who funds the research centre isn’t a greedy, cold-hearted SOB who treats his employees like shit for the sake of money. He’s sometimes douchy, mostly funny and occasionally completely crazy — at one point, he decides to take on the megalodon by himself. There’s a joke about a black guy (Page Kennedy) unable to swim. But it isn’t racist, it’s happenstance (“I’m not racist. You work in a research centre that’s parked in the middle of the ocean!”). It’s these characters (not three dimensional, but still fun to be around) that makes large chunks of this movie a summer’s delight.
Surprisingly, it’s the action sequences that are not as cool as they could’ve been. The film does a lot right, especially in the beginning. More often than not with these B-monster movies, we get a director who’s too eager to show off his version of the monster and use that to distract us from the shittiness of the other aspects of the film. But here, Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure — a movie that I have a lot of fun with) takes his time. He shows us the power of the beast before showing us the beast itself. He does a decent job building our anticipation. It’s when it comes to unveiling the beast, does Turteltaub not stick his landing. The megalodon looks bland. And it doesn’t get an awesome “hero introduction” shot either. The only jaw-dropping scene is seen in the trailer (picture below).
All the man vs shark action sequences are nothing to scream about either. It isn’t interestingly framed, and its severely lacking in thrills. It is during these scenes that I found myself dozing off, only to immediately recover when characters are simply talking to each other. But there are a number of set pieces that dial up the ridiculousness to eleven that I couldn’t help but go “Wtf?! hahaha.”
The Meg turned out to be a genuine surprise. It wears its ridiculousness on its sleeve proudly but also finds a way to be earnest. I can’t recommend that you pay top-dollar for it, but if Rampage and Fallen Kingdom is your cuppa tea, then I’m sure you will find a lot of enjoyment in this slightly superior movie. But seriously though, can we start a petition, get a bazillion signatures and force Warner Bros to release the extended cut of the film where The Rock jumps out of the megalodon’s mouth and okay I’ll cut the crap.
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The Meg turned out to be a genuine surprise. It wears its ridiculousness on its sleeve proudly, but also finds a way to be earnest. I can't recommend that you pay top-dollar for it, but if Rampage and Fallen Kingdom is your cuppa tea, then I'm sure you will find a lot of enjoyment in this slightly superior movie.