The Meg Review: Dead in the Water
The Meg is the big screen adaptation of a series of popular books written by Steve Alten. The film stars Jason Statham as Jonas Taylor, a naval captain with a bad reputation due to an aborted mission where he abandoned half of his crew at sea. Now, five years later, Jonas is called back into action to help rescue a vessel that has been attacked by a 70-foot shark known as the Meg. Can Jonas save the day or will he fail once again?
I love shark movies. Jaws is a timeless classic. Deep Blue Sea, The Shallows, and 47 Meters Down are all enjoyable, entertaining and fun in different ways. Hell, even the Sharknado franchise is a ton of campy fun. Based on the trailer for The Meg, it seemed like it was going to be a total blast. Sadly, The Meg is not only a bad movie but a bad movie that doesn’t even fall into the category of so bad, it’s good. The Meg is instead a complete mess.
The film is so much of a mess that the writers and director can’t even decide what type of film they are making. There are certain moments where it feels like a dumb over-the-top B-movie but then the tone changes and it seems like it is a serious big-budget blockbuster. The Meg does have its share of campy movements, but they never feel earned. Instead, they always come across as bad filmmaking, acting, or storytelling. Director Jon Turteltaub honestly doesn’t push the envelope far enough. Almost everything in the film feels like something that we have seen a dozen times before and there are no real thrills to be had. Almost everyone I talked to wanted Statham to punch the shark at some point in the film but spoiler alert, that never happens.
The Meg’s severe identity issues wouldn’t be as troubling if it wasn’t for the 150 million dollar price tag. Yes, you read that right $150 million. You would think that the various studios that backed this project would have been concerned by this HUGE number since there are only three other shark movies including Jaws that have made more than 100 million at the box office. Did I mention that the other two films were Finding Nemo and Shark Tale? Both of which are family-friendly animated films. Why any studio would greenlight, a 150 million dollar shark movie makes little to no sense especially when most shark movies go directly to DVD, Blu-Ray, or On-Demand.
Moving on to the cast, Jason Statham has really impressed me a lot lately. His role in Spy and as well as the recent role in the Fast & Furious franchise showcased a new side of Statham that I never saw before. I feel like in The Meg, Statham is just going through the motions and chewing up the scenery. There are certain moments in the film where he looks confused by what type of film he is acting in. There are certain scenes where he plays up the campiness of the story but then there is a weird shift in tone where he decides to take the role more seriously. I feel like Statham was involved in this project solely to collect a paycheck and I really hope that he got his biggest one yet because I still have no idea where that 150 million went after watching this film.
Statham is paired on-screen with Chinese superstar Bingbing Li, who plays Suyin. Li and Statham have zero chemistry, and their interaction can be best described as “awkward.” As a film lover and a critic, casting these two actors to play alongside one another is just bad casting. To make matters even worst, Statham and Li are forced to engage in a generic love story that doesn’t work at all. There is this one awkward scene where Suyin walks in on Jonas as he gets out of the shower. This scene is so poorly acted and shot that I honestly can’t understand how it made it into the final cut of the film. What makes this love story even worse is that Suyin has a daughter, who honestly has no real purpose in the story other than to make bad jokes about their relationship.
The supporting cast in the film isn’t much better either. Rainn Wilson, who I normally enjoy as an actor, is just so damn annoying here. You know why he’s in the film from the start because the film needs someone to play the cliched business guy who makes bad decisions. Ruby Rose is wasted and isn’t given anything to do. You have this awesome up and coming actress in your film and yet you do nothing with her. Page Kennedy as DJ is easily one of the most irritating characters of the year. All he does is scream over and over again while trying to make jokes that aren’t even remotely funny. The character of DJ reminded me of Adam Devine’s character from Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. Yes, he is that annoying.
So now for the big questions how is the action and how are the shark scenes? Well, the action scenes are very basic and predictable. There is maybe one or two good action scenes where you feel like the film is going to start getting better but that doesn’t really happen. The Megalodon is definitely badass but there isn’t enough screentime of the shark. You would think that about 75%-80% of this film would feature the Megalodon but I think less than half of the film actually shows the Meg in action. Oh, there is also a scene that is taken directly from Jaws. I guess it is supposed to be Jon Turteltaub‘s way of paying homage to Jaws but again it was sadly very underwhelming.
I realize that this review may sound overly harsh but honestly, this is one of those films where the more I think about it, the more I didn’t like it. The Meg is such a missed opportunity and doesn’t deliver on anything that it promises. It could have been this summer’s ultimate fun blockbuster but alas there is very little fun to be had. I feel like I cringed more than I laughed and that I found myself bored rather than entertained. I didn’t care about any of the characters and the story felt almost non-existent. Bottom line, The Meg is just a monster-sized disappointment. It is a Made-for-TV C-movie disguised as a big budget blockbuster. The Meg is easily one of the worst films of 2018 so far.
Scott ‘Movie Man’ Menzel’s rating for The Meg is a 2 out of 10.