'The Meg' Review: Outrageous Shark Romp Brings Prehistoric Thrills

Directed by Jon Turteltaub

Starring Jason Statham, Rainn Wilson, Bingbing Li, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, Jessica McNamee, Page Kennedy

BY Alex HudsonPublished Aug 8, 2018

On one end of the shark movie spectrum, you've got Jaws: a terrifying, realistic thriller that made an entire generation afraid to go swimming. On the other end, you've got Sharknado: ridiculous schlock that's appealing only because of it's sheer absurdity. Right in the middle is The Meg: an outrageous romp about a prehistoric shark that succeeds nicely on its modest terms.

The story follows a team of scientists — led by Dr. Minway Zhang (Winston Chao) and his daughter Suyin (Bingbing Li) — who venture into a unexplored region of the ocean hidden at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. There, they find an entirely new ecosystem, including a super-sized shark known as a megalodon, which was thought to be extinct. They call in the hard-drinking Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) to perform a deep sea rescue mission, which turns into a full-blown battle for survival when the Meg follows them to the surface.

It's hard to make an underwater thriller visually appealing, on account of all that murky seawater, but director Jon Turteltaub does a decent job at making The Meg's titular shark an impressive-looking beast. The story is based on a 1997 novel by Steve Alten, and the screenwriters (Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber) hit all of the satisfyingly predictable action movie tropes. Jaxx (Ruby Rose) is the cyberpunk computer whiz, DJ (Page Kennedy) is the loud-mouthed comic relief, Suyin is the love interest who requires frequent rescuing, and Celeste (Jessica McNamee) is the estranged ex who gets Jonas roped into this whole mess in the first place.

Rainn Wilson is particularly compelling as the buffoonish billionaire Jack Morris, as the actor puts a capitalist twist on the "arrogant dork" persona that made him such a loveable foil in The Office.

The film keeps ramping up the stakes, as our heroes battle to stop the Meg from devouring civilians along the Chinese coastline. Of course, there are only so many times they can face same monster without it getting repetitive, and there are a few too many redundant encounters over the course of nearly two hours. For a laugh, try this drinking game: take a swig every time the Meg smashes into the boat and everyone falls into the water. You'll be hammered.

Still, as pulpy action films go, this is the best blockbuster about prehistoric monsters you'll see this summer. Sorry, Jurassic World.
(Warner Bros.)

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