Cast: Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: A deep-sea submersible–part of an international undersea observation program–has been attacked by a massive creature, previously thought to be extinct, and now lies disabled at the bottom of the deepest trench in the Pacific… with its crew trapped inside. With time running out, expert deep sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is recruited by a visionary Chinese oceanographer (Winston Chao), against the wishes of his daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing), to save the crew–and the ocean itself–from this unstoppable threat: a pre-historic 75-foot-long shark known as the Megalodon. What no one could have imagined is that, years before, Taylor had encountered this same terrifying creature. Now, teamed with Suyin, he must confront his fears and risk his own life to save everyone trapped below.
We cannot have a summer film season without a movie about sharks terrorizing people in the water. A staple to the movie industry since Jaws was released in 1975, there have been a variety of takes on these stories. Some of these movies like The Shallows take more of a horror and tension angle, while other films such as the Sharknado series play it loose and try to be as ridiculous as possible. The Meg is unique in a sense that it kind of lies somewhere in the middle of these two subgenres. While The Meg is full of light, funny moments, there are also moments of good tension building sprinkled throughout. Although the film is not groundbreaking in any way, it is a relatively good time when not taken very seriously.
The film follows a group of scientists looking to see if any life beyond what was thought to be the deepest part of the ocean. When they end up finding a Megalodon, they have to seek out the help of Jonas (Statham), a former deep-sea diver who retired due to a negative experience in his past, to rescue those who are trapped at the bottom of the ocean and also prevent the Megalodon from doing further damage to people. The thing that helps The Meg avoid becoming one of the worst films of 2018 is the fact that it knows what it will be perceived as and does not shy away from that perception at all. It knows that this is a campy, over-the-top film and the film responds by being filled with cheesy jokes and moments of where either the shark or the humans do something hilariously ridiculous. That is to be expected from a movie like this and the film embraces the silliness of its concept with open arms. While I absolutely hate camerawork that is constantly shaky and making us feel like we are on a boat, within the context of this film, it kind of works. Outside of that, I was surprised at just how tense many of the suspenseful moments felt. There was one moment in particular where I felt a moment of actual fear, and this may sound silly, but I was not expecting anything like that based on how the movie had been going up to that point. Between actors like Wilson and Page Kennedy keeping us entertained with their constant jokes and easygoing moments, seeing an actual moment of stress was rather shocking, but still enjoyable. One of the things I think this film could have benefited from was an R-rating instead of a PG-13 rating. Originally, Eli Roth was supposed to be directing this film and in typical Eli Roth fashion wanted to make an R-rated version of this movie. Since R-rated films tend to make less money than PG-13 movies, Warner Brothers probably sacrificed originality for the sake of potentially making more money. I think Roth of all people could have made a fantastic shark movie based on his well documented history with gory films, but instead we got a film that was on the tamer side of things. While the comedic elements are fine for a film like this, I wish we had gotten something that was a little more terrifying than what ended up being made.
Overall, this movie is pretty much what everyone was expecting from start to finish. A light, visually busy movie that should be entertaining enough to kill some time. Turteltaub has directed some of my favorite films in the past such as the National Treasure movies, and if viewed in the same light as those movies, you should be able to have at least a decent time with The Meg.
Overall Score: 5.5/10