“The Meg,” starring an ever-so-intense Jason Statham as a deep sea rescuer, is certainly no “Jaws” but still manages to deliver an entertaining time at the multiplexes. The film gets bogged down by thinly written characters and a predictable plot but stays afloat thanks to its quick, funny tone and of course, the giant computer-generated shark.
Directed by Jon Turteltaub, “The Meg” follows a team of researchers stationed off the coast of Guam as they explore the deepest point in the ocean: the Mariana Trench. Their research takes a dark turn when they discover the supposedly extinct Megalodon shark hiding in the pitch black waters. The shark follows the team up to the surface, and an action-packed chase through Asia ensues. The team must capture the killing machine before it eats up one of the most densely populated beaches in the world.
“The Meg,” produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, plays off more as a video game introduction rather than a feature film and boasts the closest representation of a “B” movie you can find. The film offers genuine thrills but occasionally prompts you to laugh at the film, not with it. Turteltaub tries his best to salvage the unrealistic premise by keeping the film moving quickly—without ever pausing to let the audience take a breath. His attempts to add depth to this film consist of diminishing the shark’s central role in the film and focusing on the main characters’ stories, but unfortunately, they do not have much to offer in this shark tale.
Chinese actress Li Bingbing stars opposite Jason Statham as a marine researcher, both trying their hardest to infuse some emotion into this action-driven story. In the end, a forced romance and a poorly written script fail the two actors, but at least they pull off looking like true action heroes while fending off a 75-foot shark. Sadly, they fall short of bringing anything new to the story, as the characters mostly feel like chew toys for the true star of the film: the Megalodon.
One main reason to see this movie is for the giant prehistoric shark. Turteltaub and company know this fact and use it to their advantage. The shark is kept hidden for a good chunk of the first act, adding a layer of suspense and anticipation that lures the audience into a semi-believable plot. The Megalodon does not have a lot of screen time, but when she starts chasing the heroes through the depths of the ocean, the audience is at the edge of their seats, with some scenes even drawing audible gasps.
The one edge that “The Meg” has over the 1975 film “Jaws” is the realistic portrayal of the film’s
main villain—the shark. The production of Jaws is famously known for being plagued with problems stemming from the mechanical shark used in most of the action scenes. These problems almost caused the film not to be released due to significant delays in filming. The “Jaws” shark, now dated, clearly looks mechanical and does not have the desired effect of terror on modern audiences. The Meg, on the other hand, is made with computer-generated imagery (CGI) and looks as photorealistic as a 75-foot shark can be. The filmmaker’s choice to make the Megalodon as real as possible, and uber-smart, adds a pinch of intensity and terror, as well as an unforeseen plot twist. Overall, the shark is used skillfully and sparingly, giving us glimpses of what an amazing film it could have been, had it dared to explore a more meaningful twist on the story.
“The Meg” offers nothing new to the old killer shark genre but has enough tricks up its sleeve to warrant a visit to a local theater. It is a film focused on style and action rather than character development, but it will deliver an enjoyable time to anyone who does not have their expectations set too high. “The Meg” is an entertaining film, but runs too shallow in depth to constitute any thought-provoking ideas.