Written By: Mark Armstrong
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Producers: Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Colin Wilson and Belle Avery
Scriptwriters: Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber
Main Cast: Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao, Shuya Sophia Cai, Ruby Rose, Page Kennedy, Robert Taylor, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Jessica McNamee and Masi Oka
Released: August 10 2018
Running Time: 113 Minutes
Described as “Jaws on steroids”, The Meg takes the classic tale of a monster creative terrorising a portion of the human race, and adds a focus on futuristic technology with a hard-man hero, a subtle budding romance and plenty of big-budget SFX. The result is a movie that is a little predictable, but does not fail to entertain.
The movie begins with Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) attempting to rescue some of his friends way below sea level, but their vessel is under attack by a super-sized sea creature; the assumption is that it is a shark, but as we learn, it is no ordinary shark. The end result is that one of Jonas’ friends passes away, and though Jonas leaves unscathed and moves onto a quiet life of relaxation, it’s clear that the incident left him emotionally scarred, especially since some of his other “friends” did not believe his story that a massive sea creature was responsible.
Fast-forward five years, and we come to Mana One, an underwater science research facility in Shanghai, China. We meet Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson), whose vast wealth has allowed the facility to exist, and Dr. Minway Zhang (Winston Chao), who along with his daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing) have facilitated a special mission for several members of the team to drop six miles into the sea to discover a previously-undiscovered part of the universe. The only problem is that, once they are down there, they come under attack by the same creature that had caused chaos in the past.
Jonas is called upon to help, but he only agrees once he realises that his ex-wife Lori (Jessica McNamee) is amongst those in trouble. Before he gets there, though, Suyin makes a rescue attempt of her own, and ultimately it falls to Jonas to save Suyin as well as those that are trapped at the creature’s mercy. He ultimately succeeds in saving Suyin’s life, but though he rescues Lori and her comrade The Wall (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson), the two vessels becoming attached at the moment prior to another attack means that Toshi (Masi Oka), who had already written a goodbye note to his wife in the event that he couldn’t escape, sacrifices himself and breaks the attachment so that he dies, but Jonas and co. survive.
Nevertheless, there is guilt over the fact that another team member was lost, initially by Suyin, despite Jonas explaining that they all would have died regardless. Her stance soon softens significantly, and the spark becomes present between the two (particularly after she sees him topless, a visual which should please Statham fans out there). But the bigger story is that the creature which Jonas had spoken of years before truly does exist, but with a twist: the Megalodon (shortened to the Meg for the most part, which helps since it appears that Jason stumbles over saying the longer name) is a prehistoric shark, estimated to be 70-75 feet, which had been assumed extinct for 200 million years.
The crew all assume, though, that by not venturing into the deepest waters again, they are all safe. Wrong! Because the explosion caused by the Meg attacking the vessel which contained Toshi opened up a temporary air-hole that allowed the Meg to travel up the waters and, soon, to the very tip of the ocean. After another near-miss and a great sense of panic, the story turns from being an initial rescue mission held six miles down to a human battle against the largest and most dangerous sea mammal imaginable. I won’t spoil any further details, but I will note that there are some nice twists to keep you guessing as the tale rolls on.
Statham is believable as the fearless hero, though his confidence could occasionally be considered as an underestimation of the danger of the situation, and there is also the occasional cheesy moment. The rest of the cast do a pretty good job, even if the storytelling makes the Suyin character seem ungrateful initially (bear in mind that Jonas saved her life, yet she blasts him for Toshi dying despite the fact that she had created the vessel in which he died, and it’s not the last time she comes into a certain amount of danger). There is some humour thrown in across the movie, providing light relief in between the more dramatic and emotional scenes. And it doesn’t end with “The End”, if you catch my drift.
As for the Meg itself: the SFX do a fine job of making this creature seem truly frightening, not only in size and in terms of its ruthless form of attack, literally going for anything and everything regardless of what it is, which puts just about everybody and everything in great danger. The film has plenty of moments that would make you jump, though anyone familiar with the formula of movies such as these will recognise when the seeds are being planted for the next scare. On the downside, those who do not have a good understanding of how scientific research works will be baffled by much of the dialogue early on, and it should be noted that there are some grisly moments which may turn off some viewers. Oh, and there is a Chinese language version of Hey Mickey, which based on the timing of its usage in context to the plot almost feels like a parody. It’s refreshingly different, but it feels so out-of-place!
For the most part, though, The Meg is a pretty good action/horror movie, delivering just enough to keep attendees on their toes (well, while they’re simultaneously on their seats, but you get the point) while being engaging enough to hold one’s attention, and building to a satisfactory climax. Some may disagree with the “Jaws on steroids” philosophy for this film, but The Meg still stands as an adequate, modern update on the Jaws franchise.
Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good