Review by C.J. Bunce
Is it a kaiju movie? A dinosaur movie? A shark movie? A big international action movie? Another effort to make an underwater thriller? Or just the latest Jason Statham movie? The Meg 2: The Trench is all the above. The sequel to The Meg–the summer blockbuster and most fun rollercoaster ride of 2018–unfortunately The Meg 2 isn’t able to capture what made the first movie so good. Director Ben Wheatley replaces the more seasoned Jon Turtletaub to direct a convoluted thriller that stitches together quite a lot in the first hour, and it’s only able to come together in the last half of the movie. If you’re a fan of kaiju movies or Jason Statham movies, you know exactly what you’re in for and it’s still going to be a fun ride. The Meg 2 is streaming now on Max.
Meg 2: The Trench finds Statham back as Jonas Taylor, again confronting a megalodon, a prehistoric sea monster that shows no sympathy for annoying beachgoers. But this time many megalodons show up, in addition to a young megalodon being raised by Taylor’s scientific partners. The first half of the movie finds much of the crew from the first film reassembled as they go on a routine mission that is thwarted by sabotage. Their efforts to survive and maintain their team, while being bombarded with a new break in the deep sea Trench–the one that usually keeps the megalodons at bay underneath–deliver some predictable action sequences, but the effects are a reminder that movies have come a long way since The Abyss and even Jaws.
The movie doesn’t really kick in until the crew makes its way to Fun Island, a resort island where prehistoric crocodiles and a giant squid, also released from the Trench, collide with our heroes, and the ginormous megalodon.
Fast & Furious, Die Hard, The Shining, Avatar, and The Walking Dead series actor Cliff Curtis is back as Mac, Rush Hour’s Page Kennedy is back as DJ, and Sophia Cai returns as Meiying. Action star Jing Wu co-stars with Resident Evil film series co-star Sienna Guillory, Assassin Creed’s Melissanthi Mahut, Counterpart’s Whoopie Van Raam, and Skyler Samuels. But the big win is the chemistry between Statham’s Taylor and adopted daughter Meiying. The movie quickly explains Meiying’s mom dying between the films, and we don’t get any specifics, but it’s clear a bond was forged for Taylor and Meiying. Meiying also has good chemistry with her uncle, played by Jing Wu, a new character for the film series.
For Statham fans, get ready to see what it would be like for Statham to star as James Bond, as well as Aquaman. The Bond scenes are straight out of the Ian Fleming novels as he saves the day over and over with death-defying action spy stunts. Statham also gets to be the ultimate fish-man superhero, swimming, breathing underwater in impossible situations (carefully explained to be scientifically possible), and raising the bar for the heroes of Waterworld and the Justice League. Would Statham makes a great Bond? Absolutely, although this is as close as we’ll get.
Although the deep sea disaster movie Underwater (reviewed here) wasn’t as good as The Meg, its efforts to follow a crew trying to survive on the ocean floor and its more harrowing cinematography surpass the dark and difficult to follow action in The Meg 2. On the other hand The Meg 2 delivers its modern dinosaur movie scenes much better than in the Jurassic World movies–it even pokes fun at some of the logic in that film. The Meg 2 drifts into the territory of lesser water movies like Piranha, Crocodile, Barracuda, and Alligator as it updates movies like Leviathan with the latest tech.
At every level the second half of the movie is satisfying, especially in its wind-up of the plight of each of the bad guys. Yes, a Fast & Furious type of franchise could continue for these characters. Yes, the little dog is back. And it’s proof that Hollywood could make a great live-action Jabberjaw movie. Watch The Meg 2: The Trench, streaming now on Max.