Meg 2: The Trench Review

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Rating: 2.5/5

Synopsis:

I was never the biggest fan of the original Meg movie, but I thought it was fun enough to warrant a watch (once). With its financial success, Meg 2 has swum onto the big screen. Jason Statham returns in true fashion, as he is recruited to join an exploration of the deepest section of the ocean. Their voyage gets out of hand when a mining operation gets in the way of their journey, causing a fight for survival. With large Megalodons and other sea monsters surrounding them, the team must outlast competitors and their sea foes to make it back to the surface.

Positives:

If The Meg wasn’t appealing, this won’t win over those who didn’t embrace its silliness. Meg 2 continues the antics from the first but adds certain elements to the story. Jason Statham was actually better in this than he was in the original. His kick-butt action hero schtick was in top form here. All of this while he’s trying to avoid death at the bottom of the ocean and fighting giant sharks…how is that not somewhat fun? I enjoyed how the world of the ocean was expanded too. We get to see an even deeper region of the ocean along with the developing technology investigating it. This added a darker, more mysterious feeling to the team’s mission as the lighting was dim for most of the voyage. The feeling of lurking creatures surrounding the team was effective, making the mission more dangerous for everyone.

I thought the idea of adding another exploration team that competed with Statham’s team an interesting dynamic (if not altogether successful). The first act of the film offered a promising start, creating lots of new opportunities to explore the possibilities of large sharks existing in our time. But the third act delivers on what was promised: big dumb fights with huge sea creatures. This was the most fun part of the film as the partying tourists get eaten by our large friends beneath the surface.

Negatives:

When paying for a ticket, customers will know exactly what they’re getting. Meg 2 expands on the silliness of the first while adding many new plot devices to this sequel. But unfortunately, not all additions were successful. What was billed as an expansion of the Statham vs. Megaladons premise is largely abandoned for multiple new subplots. None of them are quite as interesting. What’s funny is that if the filmmakers chose to focus on one of these new subplots, the story might have been interesting enough to explore. But instead, the movie is bogged down by confusing alliance shifts, lots of dull characters, and a surprising lack of giant sharks. The final 20 minutes provides what audiences wanted, but the rest of the movie feels unusually clunky. That’s saying something for a Meg movie. The first film was no awards contender, but at least the action-packed shark premise was prominent. I’ll give director Ben Wheatley credit for making some cool attempts to bring a new pivot to the franchise, but most of these ideas go nowhere. When most of the shark movie is spent on forgettable characters instead of shark mayhem, that could disappoint audiences.

The PG-13 rating also hampered the ability to lean into the gore and carnage one might expect from a movie like this. Wish they were willing to fully embrace the concept that was promised. This is a strange critique, but something I noticed was some Chinese bias within the film. Meg 2 (and its predecessor) was co-produced by a Chinese studio. In turn, a good portion of the film is spoken in Chinese and performed by Chinese actors. I found this interesting as much of the exploration takes place off the coast of China, integrating the Chinese and American cast together. But once the carnage started it was noticeably the American cast getting eaten, the American tourists acting stupid, the American being the greedy party, etc. Whereas the Chinese cast was displayed as heroic and patriotic. I just found it strange that the Chinese studio likely had THAT much pull. Pretty one sided and noticeable (no wonder the film is doing better financially in China).

Synopsis:

Meg 2 somewhat delivers on its promise of a ridiculous prehistoric shark movie. But logic gaps and missed opportunities plague the movie from fully embracing its fun concept. It won’t win over those who hated the first and didn’t do enough to really impress me. I had fun with the first and third acts of the film, but the second act went in some strange directions. If you are going to check it out, give it a go on streaming. Don’t expect Meg 2 to redefine the shark genre, but it has some fun along the way.