The Meg review – it’s exactly what you think it is

Jason Statham's giant shark movie The Meg is a ridiculous, marvellous beast...

The Meg

Jason Statham pokes a megalodon in the eye in B-movie eco-horror-actioner The Meg and that could be all anyone needs to know. It’s likely to make this hilarious, ridiculous, audacious and rather marvellous movie a monster hit.

Is it a great movie? No, of course it isn’t! But is it everything you hoped for and more? Absolutely!

Based on the book Meg: A Novel Of Deep Terror by Steve Alten which came out in 1997, just four years after Jurassic Park redefined the blockbuster movie, The Meg similarly imagines what would happen if a prehistoric creature thought to be extinct, resurfaced because of mankind’s meddling and posed a serious threat to the modern world. The movie rights were originally snapped up by Disney in the ‘90s, presumably hoping for another dino-sized hit but the movie never happened and eventually Warner picked up the project, with National Treasure director Jon Turteltaub at the helm.

Decades later and The Meg is more Snakes On A Plane than Jurassic Park, though that’s not to the movie’s detriment. In an era where nobody needs any more bad news, during a summer where an eco disaster feels a bit too close to home, The Meg is a dumb, schlocky joy, that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is packed with zingers like “That living fossil ate my friend!” and “You might be a son of a bitch, but you’re sure as hell no coward!”

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The Meg is the giant shark movie we need right now.

Jason Statham plays Jonas Taylor, the only man who’s completed a super-deep sea rescue mission and survived. The trouble is, that mission cost the lives of Taylor’s best friends and in the aftermath he’s turned into a washed up alcoholic living by the beach in Thailand who’s done with deep diving. Besides, when he was at the bottom of the ocean he swears there was something down there with him…

Now a very dangerous, implausible and surprisingly straightforward expedition which takes a submarine full of scientists below what they had previously thought was the sea bed (and turns out be gas or something) has uncovered an entirely new cut-price Pandora-style eco-system, and with it a creature everyone thought only existed in the history books. The sub gets damaged and there’s only one man who can take on the rescue mission. It could be time for one last job…

Revelling in cliches, dining out on the frankly terrible dialogue, The Meg trades any semblance of seriousness for corny one-liners and bonkers set pieces including the aforementioned shark eye-poke and a depth-perspective-defying beach scene including a great bit with a Zorb.

Though it’s hardly original, the movie goes out of its way to give audiences what they want at every turn, complete with plenty of well earned kills. This is a movie best watched with friends, and preferably after a few beers – it’s a film to interact with like an old-school drive-in creature-feature. A co-production with China – the fastest growing film market in the world – The Meg is almost cynical in its box ticking. Half-naked post-shower Stath? Tick. Obnoxious American businessman bound for a comeuppance? Tick. Comedy dog scene? Tick tick tick. So at times it does feel like you’re watching a movie made by numbers. This is lowest common denominator entertainment – the new Jaws it is not.

The Meg is at its weakest when it makes attempts at pathos, or sweetness, or any other nuanced human emotion. The romance subplot between Taylor and scientist Suyin (Bingbing Li) is frankly excruciating, while Suyin’s 8-year-old daughter (played by Shuya Sophia Cai) has some of the worst lines of dialogue in the film (including a bit where she says her mum was ‘married to an A-hole’ – that’s her dad, she’s talking about).

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While the 25 metre long CGI shark is admittedly pretty cool, the movie isn’t really scary at all. For sharky thrills and tension you’re better off with 47 Meters Down, though The Meg is far more exuberant and bombastic than that indie treat.

The Meg is absolutely what you think it is, beat for beat. If you think it looks crap – well, you’re right, it is, don’t go and see it. If you think it looks like enormous fun and absolutely up your street – you are also right, go watch it on the biggest screen you can. The Meg is shamelessly stupid, delightfully dumb, and uproarious fun with it. And it’s definitely the best worst movie of the summer.

The Meg is in UK cinemas from Friday.

Rating:

3 out of 5