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Meg 2: The Trench Review – Jumped the Shark

Meg 2: The Trench is a cesspool of several over the top ideas that unfortunately ends up feeling far shallower due to how overcrowded with themes it is.

The best part of Meg 2 was when the megalodon charged at Jason Statham, then turned tail and ran screaming, “WE’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER SHARK!” I’m kidding, of course, but not as much as you may think…

Directed by Ben Wheatley, Meg 2: The Trench follows Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), a rescue diver working for a Chinese oceanic research station. Said station has been doing research into a trench filled with ancient creatues, including the titular megalodon. When one mission goes awry, it’s up to Jonas to – actually you know what? It’s Jason Statham vs sea monsters, and that’s all that really matters plot-wise.

Look, it is very clear Meg 2 isn’t meant to be critiqued seriously. It stars Jason Statham, an actor known for his over the top action typecasts, and then brings in megalodons and other giant sea monsters. You should not expect masterful plot work here, or memorable characters. Jason Statham here is virtually indistinguishable from all his other works, and is mainly there as action fodder, as are the rest of the cast.

I’ve made it clear for a while that I fundamentally don’t have a problem with those kinds of dumb fun movies. As long as the film’s basic plot structure makes sense and the dumb fun is actually fun, I would gladly turn my brain off and giggle at the insanity. However, that also means that if the movie fails to maintain even that basic level of competence, it is going to lose me faster than sharks are losing their fins to restaurants. Unfortunately, that is the case with Meg 2.

See, what I mean by turning my brain off is that I can enjoy over the top stuff like Jason Statham and a megalodon charging head on at each other like an anime opening. It does not mean I can overlook characters acting like a shark took a bite out of their cerebral functions. For instance, on an expedition, Jonas’s crew gets chased by a megalodon, then sees several more grouping up and heading somewhere. These logic-minded scientists then decide to follow those sharks immediately despite the fact that they were nearly snacked on by them just a minute ago.

loud and clear reviews Meg 2: The Trench film
JASON STATHAM as Jonas in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and CMC Pictures’ sci-fi action thriller “Meg 2: The Trench,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (© 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

The beginning is the most egregious example of these illogical decisions, but even later on there are times where some characters act like their free trial of life expired and they really don’t want to pay for a subscription. It’s those cases where I am taken out of the experience, as that’s when the plot feels contrived. Even with over the top movies, characters still need to act within some acceptable boundaries.

Then there is the fact that this megalodon movie actually doesn’t feature that much megalodon action. You could argue it’s trying to keep the element of suspense, but that doesn’t work when they showed megalodons are out there several times right away. Instead, a good portion is actually dedicated to human antagonists. Granted, I did enjoy just how clichéd they were, and that part certainly seemed intentional. But that doesn’t change how uninteresting those human portions are, for very strange reasons.

See, Jason Statham’s typecast role is the borderline super soldier action hero. When he’s up against megalodons, it’s exciting because it still feels like he’s facing a credible threat, and I actually get somewhat tense during those sequences. But then when he faces soldiers with guns, I immediately breathe a sigh of relief, because there is no way Jason Statham can lose against humans. So that actually lowers my tension and therefore attention to the movie.

But the biggest issue with Meg 2 is that it has far too many fish swimming in its bowl. When you brainstorm ideas for a story, you’d typically narrow the selection down so that they feel cohesive and don’t overcrowd each other. Here, it feels like they used literally every scene and idea they had in the brainstorming process. One moment the film’s a horror story on the sea floor, then it is Jason Statham vs humans, and then we’re having giant creature attacks. And because the film cycles through so many ideas so quickly, the pacing and tone feel about as graceful as a megalodon in a kiddie pool.

All this is a shame, because if these countless ideas had been properly fleshed out, I think we could have had something big here. The climax shows this the most. It is the shining moment of the film, where it feels the truest to its premise and fully embraces its campiness. Look, you have Jason Statham jet skiing on top of a wave and throwing harpoons like he’s Aquaman or something, I don’t think that is a terrible thing to witness. But for the rest of the movie, I was left with just quick bites and nothing to fully savor.

You can do dumb movies, and again, for the climax, I think Meg 2 mostly succeeded. I certainly remember leaving the theater with a grin, and it’s the reason why I am giving this movie an extra half star. But looking at the whole package, it’s far too unfocused with its dumb fun so that I have no idea which dumb fun I should be invested in. It is a classic case of where going bigger isn’t always better.

Meg 2: The Trench is out now on digital and on demand.

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