The Meg is a film that could have been the goofy fun blockbuster of the summer, sadly though it never lives up to that billing. The plot focuses on Jonas Taylor, (Jason Statham), a diver tasked with manning a rescue mission to a new and previously unexplored part of the ocean, wherein a terrifying threat lurks- a prehistoric Megalodon. That premise alone suggests a dumb B movie esque action thriller, but in actuality, this film is just another generic blockbuster. My praise for this film is all based around its lead, Statham. The Meg has Statham in an unusually charming role; with it being obvious he is enjoying every minute of it. Furthermore, the interactions Statham’s Jonas has with the other characters are also quite amusing. Shown in Jonas’s surrogate father role to Meiying, (Shuya Sophia Cai), who, unlike most other child actors, is always a welcome presence.
However, even with Statham’s likeability in the role, the romantic subplot between Jonas and Suyin, (Li Binging), is dead in the water. There is no chemistry between the two characters, making their romance feel forced throughout. What’s more, in a bizarre script idea, Jonas ex-wife Lori, (Jessica McNamee), is also at the station. Lori amounts to little more than a plot device; and the star of more than a few awkward scenes. Sadly, though McNamee’s character is just one of many paper-thin characters; whose removal would not have an impact on the film overall. By the time the credits roll you will be lucky if you can remember a single character name, that is how developed and memorable they are. A clear example of this is Jack Morris, (Rainn Wilson), who starts out as the billionaire investor and main comedic relief character, but then for no explained reason turns into a maniacal almost supervillain in the films third act. Therein lies the film’s biggest and most egregious problem- it’s script.
The script doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be, serious action film, or a dumb pulpy B movie. To the former, the film takes itself very seriously in many of its scenes, which is why when it tries to include humour in certain places it doesn’t work. To the latter, there are ridiculously over the top spectacle sequences; that end up coming across as eye-rollingly dumb as opposed to fun in any way. An example of this would be when the crew has one of its many fights with one of the Megs, during this sequence people needlessly keep falling into the water, but no one seems to notice. Furthermore, at one point in the film, the crew are trapped on a sinking boat, during which time they don’t know how to escape; somehow, they ignore the escape raft that is right in front of them- in a groan-inducing moment of stupidity.
More to the disservice of The Meg’s script, the dialogue is horrible. At its best, it is corny and cliched, at its worst, it is annoying and cringey. Some examples include a cringey rap song, the whole character interactions between Jonas and Dr Heller and perhaps worst of all the line, “it’s not about the people you lose, but the people you save”. Additionally, the humour in the film always feels out of place; in my opinion, added as an afterthought.
Finally, the film suffers from severe pacing issues, with the first act especially being boring and uninspired. Ultimately, boring and uninspired sum up acutely what this film is. Not even likeable performances from Statham and a charming Ruby Rose can save this film from sinking with the ship.
Reviewed by Luke.