Release date: 10th August 2018/Watch the trailer here
Based on the 1997 novel Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror, The Meg has had a somewhat troubled production. Although the rights to the novel were snatched up more or less immediately, the project had stalled by 1999, and it wasn’t until 2005 that The Meg resurfaced, this time with names such as Guillermo Del Toro attached to it. Needless to say, that particular attempt at resurrecting The Meg never came to fruition either – but, thirteen years later, and following rumours of Eli Roth directing before being replaced by Jon Turteltaub (best known for the National Treasure movies and, bizarrely, ’90s rom-com While You Were Sleeping), The Meg is finally able to see the light of day – although whether this was for better or worse remains to be seen.
Five years after surviving an attack by a colossal, seventy-foot sea creature, expert rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is forced to confront his fears in order to rescue those trapped in a sunken submersible, after a mission to explore an even deeper section of the Mariana Trench went awry. Jonas soon discovers that the creature is a Megalodon, the largest shark known to mankind and wrongly thought to have been extinct for millions of years – and now Jonas must stop the Megalodon before it hunts down the entire crew of an underwater research facility financed by billionaire Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson).
Perhaps even more surprising than the sheer number of years that The Meg spent stuck in development hell is the fact that it took not one, not two, but three writers to come up with a screenplay chock-full of every cinematic cliché known to man. If there’s a chance for Jason Statham to deliver a trite one-liner in his increasingly bizarre accent, then The Meg takes that opportunity and runs with it – and Statham, to his credit, manages to keep a straight face throughout, in spite of the ridiculousness that The Meg throws at him.
So, yes, The Meg might be clichéd and cheesy and ultimately little more than two hours of utter silliness, but its saving grace – the factor that takes a film that should, for all intents and purposes, be absolutely appalling and instead elevates it to something that’s passable and even entertaining – is that The Meg realises all of this, and never once takes itself too seriously. It’s the perfect kind of end-of-summer popcorn movie, with the sort of schlocky, B-movie quality that will probably ensure that it remains well-loved in years to come – and even if you find yourself laughing at it rather than with it, at least you can’t say that it’s boring.
In many ways, it’s almost a shame that The Meg didn’t embrace its absurdity even further. The characters are so one-dimensional that each could easily be described in just one word, and the acting – the supporting cast includes Li Bingbing, Winston Chao, Ruby Rose and Cliff Curtis – isn’t much better. But what The Meg lacks in character development, it makes up for in its fair share of tense chases, last-minute escapes and more than a few Statham vs giant shark moments. Unfortunately, however, the film is constrained by its family-friendly, summer blockbuster rating – and it can’t help but feel like a little bit more blood and a few more teeth wouldn’t have gone amiss. After all, this is a shark attack movie (a genre which seems to have grown strangely popular of late).
Ultimately, those who go into The Meg expecting the next Jaws will only be left disappointed – but if you’re after a film that sees Jason Statham take on a seventy-foot shark single-handedly, then The Meg will almost certainly provide you with your money’s worth.