Director: Jon Turteltaub
Starring: Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, Cliff Curtis
Run Time: 113 mins
Another Summer, another shark film. At least, that’s what The Meg looks like and judging by the trailers and its marketing, it is the definition of a stereotypical Summer popcorn movie. The Meg, however looks much better, than the shark films from the last few years, from the disappointing The Shallows to the terrible 47 Meters Down. The Meg wears its cheese on its sleeve with smile-inducing taglines such as ‘Opening wide’ or ‘Chomp down’. Also, The Meg ups the stakes quite literally in that it follows a thought-to-be-extinct Megalodon shark that is let loose and it is up to Jason Statham and a group of scientists to stop it inflicting carnage and torment. Director Jon Turteltaub has a very mixed quality of filmography, having a promising start with Cool Runnings but then he made the terrible National Treasure films and never really recovered.
Surprisingly, The Meg gets a lot right and has a solid, at times, atmospheric first half. Tureltaub succeeds in only showing glimpses of the monster and manages to build tension, as the scientists are on a mission investigating a suspectedly deeper section of the Marianas trench. Although nothing groundbreaking, there are even attempts to flesh out the characters and they’re all quite empathetic and likeable.
It is rather frustrating, then, that the film lacks ambition in its second half. The 12A / PG-13 rating really affects the film and actually, violence and gore would have really elevated it, rather than having the camera frustratingly cut away when the titular monster hunts its prey. It also lacks credibility in that nothing really happens, particularly in what could have been an outstanding setpiece of the shark creeping into a packed beach, but instead it more or less just swims through without many casualties.
At least the cast and crew seem to be having fun and Statham is realiably cheesy in the lead role. Rainn Wilson possibly fares the best out of the supporting cast and is well-cast as a billionaire who initially supports the scientists research. Technically, the film looks good, with Clint Eastwood-regular cinematogapher, Tom Stern establishing a great atmosphere and inventively shooting some of the shark attacks.
Ultimately, you pretty much get what you expect with The Meg but at least, the first half is pretty solid. It’s a shame that the filmmakers wanted to appeal to the largest possible audience, as a higher age rating could have really elevated it and would have satisfied the genre buffs. However, taken on its own merits, The Meg is certainly one of the better shark films in recent memory which although unfortunately says a lot about the genre, is good in that it’s not a travesty unlike other recent efforts.