Director: Jon Turteltaub
Cast: Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Page Kennedy
Plot: When exploring undiscovered depths of the ocean, a team of scientists accidentally attract the attention of a 75-foot Megalodon.
The Meg isn’t the first movie about a giant undiscovered shark emerging from the depths and launching chaos on the world around it. However, the Meg is the first movie involving a prehistoric Megalodon that has managed to get its hands on a blockbuster budget and a group of famous faces to bulk out the cast. However, history has proven that it takes more than a bucket load of cash to save a truly limp premise, meaning that whether the Meg would actually escape its B Movie origins was something audiences would have to find out for themselves.
The cast give the Meg the best chance it was going to get. The script holds them back plenty with the usual cardboard cut-out characters that come with this kind of film. Also, there is probably one too many characters for the film’s own good, sometimes making the story a tad too bloated, especially in its final throes. You get the feeling that Cliff Curtis’ role as best friend and security consultant would be largely forgettable in the hands of someone who didn’t ooze as much charisma as Curtis. The same goes for the loudmouth American bank-rolling this ill-advised expedition. With Rainn Wilson in the role, at the very least the film can steal some laughs early on that helps the audience get over that sinking feeling that this is going to be a bit of a B Movie mess. I suppose the same can be said for Ruby Rose, who was clearly written in for a younger audience, even if to the older viewer her character seems superfluous and, quite frankly, useless. Namely the film belongs to Jason Statham and Li Bingbing as the attractive couple leading the charge against the prehistoric shark. Statham is a solid choice for this kind of film, the kind of tough action guy that is able to recognise when he needs to play a role tongue-in-cheek. His tough Brit persona is easy to mock, without bringing the whole movie into some kind of farce. It is hard to complain too much when Statham brings the character into his stock role list (an expert whose dark past is dragged up when he is forced back into action), as it probably squeezes the Meg comfortably into a box set in the future. Li Bingbing is the bigger surprise as the charismatic heroine, who has enough personal connections with the other characters to make the correct levels of stakes run throughout the film. It helps her daughter is the cutest character in the film in quite some time.
However, seeing as the characters are merely the means to drive the narrative forward, this doesn’t entirely stop the Meg from being little more than some B Movie fluff. If anything, the bigger the shark, the less personal the scares. The megalodon villain makes some of the wider shots good, earning its stripes with some gorgeous shots of the killer shark swimming underneath the clueless beach parties. However, in being so large, it becomes more and more implausible for the characters to go toe to toe with the monster. There are no ‘close and personal’ chases as there were with The Shallows, and when the Meg attempts something of that nature, the logic of the film is strained the most. The death scenes are also nowhere near as decent as you want them to be either with characters getting swallowed whole, rather than gruesomely chomped. In fact, the Meg is ruined because of its tame rating. It is almost as though the producers insisted the director make it available for a younger audience in return for its extensive budget. This will become the shark movie to wean teenagers onto the bigger and better films, such as Jaws and Deep Blue Sea. As predicted, the CGI shark also stops the scares from being as effective as they could have been. It turns out the megalodon becomes just a bit too tricky to believe in. That being said, the Meg is enjoyable enough, almost winning some points from how bad you expected it to be. There are a few solid jumps that sneak up on you.
Also, I now refuse to listen to any version of the song ‘Hey Mickey’ which isn’t in Thai.
Final Verdict: Enjoyable enough, but no amount of cash can cloak a dressed-up B Movie.