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Meg 2: The Trench

It's adults, child and dog against prehistoric shark in the latest, and spunkiest, edition of The Meg series. When a child of the previous film's megalodons somehow manages to escape, Jason Statham chases them down into an adventure which introduces us to a world we've only touched upon before.

Meg 2 has a lot going on. Even the plot, I have to say, sometimes comes across as a bit of a jumble – as if different directors read different parts of the script and each decided to emphasize slightly different things. The result is, I'm going to argue, a remarkable and beautiful mess, held together by the stoicism of Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), the wacky alt.hero vibes of Jiuming Zhang (Jing Wu), and the rest of a cast and crew that sometimes feels half Austin Powers, half James Bond... and all megalodon.

Well, maybe not ALL. But we'll get to the other giant thingies in a minute.

Jonas Taylor is a terrible character. As written, Jonas is one note, boring, and basically, what, says the same three sentences repeatedly throughout the film. Jonas is your basic Cardboard Action Daddy, utterly faithful to the child he is protecting, the brother he has chosen, the team he is in charge of. As acted, however, Jonas comes across far more sincere than most would give Jason Statham credit for. Statham actually brings a lot of expressiveness to a role and you can see his brain working a few times until it's played through scenarios and arrived at What To Do. When Sophia's in danger, you can see Jason feeling it. From me, Statham gets a thumbs up. 

Zhang is much more interesting to me as a character, and so much is because of Jing Wu and the flamboyance he brings to the role. I find the two actors work really well together, and that Meg 2 outstrips the first movie for me with their dynamic included. Arguably, outside of the Megs themselves, nearly all my favorite moments in this film have Jing Wu in them.

Both Jonas and Zhang begin the film working in some sort of Meg Resort, with one captured Meg, Haiqi. Haiqi is now adult size and roaming the tank, living large. Jing Wu has some special relationship with Haiqi, and Meiying's fascinated by the work they both do and wants to get in it. These main characters are surrounded by a very generic but engaging team – and have big money funding guiding their work. They have fun trying to communicate with Haiqi and escaping certain death. There is no concern, because most Megs are trapped in the Mariana Trench under the thermocline, a layer of water that acts as a barrier keeping older species preserved in an ecosystem beneath. Haiqi seems under control. In this happy state we find our heroes in the beginning of the film. 

Until, well... Haiqi gets out. Through the employment of what might be dazzling intelligence, what might be just sheer bullheaded luck. This leads to a fast-paced hour which brings us to places we haven't seen before and shows some really fun visuals. And THIS is just the beginning, basically.

Maybe I'm an easy target, but I found that first hour extremely captivating. I was spooked and fascinated by Haiqi, and her relationship with Zhang and Meiying. The movie did well with handling beats of fear and suspense. There were times when I paused the movie and walked away. My heart was actually pounding! I watched half the film one night, then had to save the second half.

I found the terrorist parts of this film boredom punctuated by Megs, with the one exception being the noticeably good-looking villain Montes (Sergio Peris Mencheta.) Throughout this film kept up a tone I realize I love and miss in movies, a sort of the-impossible-happens-here glow. This time around brings a bit of self-awareness, a little more humor, and a touch more lightness and not so much waiting for the fin to surface. My best parallel would be Gremlins 2: The New Batch, which was also a bit lighter than its predecessor – and, to me, also a lot of fun.

For me, the weakest parts of this film were the human villains. Montes does his best, but that whole plotline makes no sense to me – although watching a Meg munch its way through a station window to get some appetizers never fails to please. The strongest parts, honestly, I'd say is a tie between the Megalodons – and how the crew pull off the script with some freshness.

Fresh Chum

I liked the opening with Zhang trying to control Haiqi. I did think he was going to be the first death though. He sort of got a second shot!

I mean it when I talk about the chemistry between Jing Wu and Jason Statham. I'm glad there was no romantic aspect to this film – there was almost a gay-dad quality to the movie.

The science is pretty consistent between the two films. Consistency in-world is important to me.

Pippin the dog is back. I admit she was one of my favorite parts of the first film.

There's a lot of movie references in this film, including one to Jaws The Revenge, which was my favorite Jaws novel but absolutely the worst movie.

This is a movie that's panned by the critics (28 on Rotten Tomatoes) but loved by the audiences (73, natch.) The timing may have helped. I was ready to be spooked near Halloween.


This is not a movie for people who are looking for Discovery Channel infotainment. It's a movie about giant and ancient sea creatures and ecoterrorists blowing up the ocean. I think some suspension of disbelief is expected and deserved for a good fear flick. I had a fantastic time suspending my disbelief. Or maybe I just love Jason Statham. A stronger human-villain set would have been nice, but the marine-villain set makes up for it. Four out of five Megalodons.

1 comment:

  1. JRS, thank you for reviewing this movie, which will absolutely go on my end-of-year list of best movies.

    It was so, so perfect. I mean, just silly and wonderful and captivating. I saw it in the theater and am so happy I did.

    Or, as you said, maybe I just love Jason Statham.


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