And so with a massive splash and a shitload of teeth, we get Hollywood’s latest attempt to liberate the killer shark genre from the clutches of the Syfy Channel and Asylum Studios in The Meg, a ludicrous horror/actioner which thrusts a 70 ft prehistoric shark again it’s only natural enemy; The Stath.
A billion dollar research centre at the bottom of the ocean finds itself in shit deeper than the trench they’re exploring when they encounter a Megalodon, a prehistoric shark that could gulp down a regular shark while triggering the gag relex less than a 75 year-old porn actress. With a sub stranded in the danger zone, their only chance is Jason Statham, a disgraced undersea rescue pilot (stay with me) who comes with all the requisite baggage that makes up an 80’s action hero starter pack, plus he may have come into contact with The Meg years earlier.
Sporting stubble that could sandpaper an alligator and a dab of alcoholism that he probably shouldn’t be treating so lightly, The Stath agrees to help out and sure enough, the aquatic super-monster breaks from it’s trench like some man-eating shut-in and gets some much needed sun. Oh, and people. It starts eating people…
So it’s down to The Stath and his motley crew of researchers, scientists and the walking anime haircut that is Ruby Rose, to defeat The Meg before she raises her blood pressure by gorging on all that red meat swimming at the nearest beach.
In case you haven’t guessed, The Meg is stupid. Not Sharknado stupid, thank God, but Deep Blue Sea stupid. Which is fine, I wasn’t expecting Shakespeare (Sharkspeare?) but due to it’s frustratingly restrained nature it frequently feels like a My First Shark Attack Movie. Does your pre-12-year-old like sharks? Think that Jaws, The Shallows or Deep Blue Sea may be too violent/intense for them? Meg it.
You’d think that with such a cool, huge monster to play with, the film makers would have tons of cool visual gags and set pieces lined up but maddeningly the film rarely slips the brake off and the fist pumpingly cool shit you’re hoping for never truly quite come off.
That’s a shame because Steve Alten’s original novel while Michael Crichton lite, is packed full of unlikely yet cool, scenarios the film chooses to ignore, a surfer riding a wave directly into The Meg’s throat and a unwitting victim stumbling off a boat and onto the waiting shark’s lower jaw are, admittedly, ludicrous but would have given the film the kick up the tail fin it sometimes needs. You mean to say you WOULDN’T want the shark to explode out of the water like a finned nuclear warhead and snatch a helicopter out of the air? Cos the film makers didn’t…
Despite this, however, The Meg is a decent and admittedly fun distraction, more in the line of Dwayne Johnson’s recent output than, say, Piranha 3D (think Rampage but less water). It’s colourful, bright, slick and Statham’s having a whale of a time. In fact everyone seems to be enjoying themselves so much it’s hard not to be drawn in, if only a little. Props also have to go to the impressively un-annoying little girl who ticks the box of precocious child in a Jurassic Park movie without you ever once wanting to fling her directly at the nearest source of monster teeth.
In summation? Not as wry as the original Piranha or Alligator, not as tense as The Shallows, not a gory as the Piranha remake, not as explodey as Deep Blue Sea. I won’t even mention Jaws….
Thank God The Meg and Stath’s final face-off goes a fair way to correcting this (yes, they actually go hand-to-fin at one point) but any sequels need to up the carnage because ironically, this shark could’ve used a bit more meat between it’s teeth…