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Review: ‘The Meg’ Lacks the Bite of the Films that Inspired It

August 9, 2018Ben MK

First it was Dwayne Johnson versus the world's tallest building in Skyscraper. Now, it's Jason Statham's turn, as Johnson's Fast and the Furious co-star takes on not just a killer shark — but the biggest killer shark that ever lived.

In The Meg, Statham plays Jonas Taylor, a deep sea rescue expert "with a bad attitude," who first encountered a member of the long-thought-extinct Megalodon species five years earlier. Cut to the present day, and Jonas is called to the Mana One marine research station located 200 miles off the Chinese coast, when his ex-wife Lori (Jessica McNamee) is among three scientific researchers who become trapped at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, after their $20 million underwater submersible is crippled by a mysterious creature.

Funded by a billionaire named Morris (Rainn Wilson) and run by a visionary scientist named Zhang (Winston Chao), Mana One is as state-of-the-art as it gets. But even with all its technological refinements and cutting-edge breakthroughs, nothing can prepare its crew — which includes Zhang's daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing), her 8-year-old daughter Meiying (Sophia Cai), a doctor named Heller (Robert Taylor), computer experts Jaxx (Ruby Rose) and DJ (Page Kennedy), and Jonas' old friend Mac (Cliff Curtis) — for what they're about to face next.

Directed by Jon Turteltaub and adapted by Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber from the 1997 bestseller by Steve Alten, The Meg is tailor-made for audiences who can't get enough of movies like Jaws and the multitude of similarly-themes films it eventually spawned, from Deep Blue Sea to the Sharknado series. But despite the fact that some of those movies were of questionable quality, one could at least say that they had personality, which is something that The Meg sorely lacks. And when your star attraction is a massive man-eater that makes even a humpback whale look puny, that's a problem.

Instead, Statham and company spend the vast majority of the film either being chased by the Meg or trying to chase it down. And while that all sounds thrilling on paper, it’s the fairly tame way that these scenes play out on screen that ultimately reinforces the notion that the filmmakers should have just let 75-foot-long prehistoric sharks lie. Add to that the fact that the movie is also somewhat scattershot — jumping from solemn speeches one moment to jokey dialogue the next — and it's also hard to pinpoint exactly what kind of tone the filmmakers are aiming for.

Granted, The Meg isn't the type of film that should be over-analyzed, but it sometimes feels like the movie doesn’t poke enough fun at itself. That said, its over-the-top climax very nearly redeems the entire effort, proving that not even nature's most fearsome aquatic predator is a match for one man, a harpoon and a whole lot of machismo.

The Meg releases August 10th, 2018 from Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for action/peril, bloody images and some language. Its runtime is 1 hr. 53 min.

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