MEG 2: THE TRENCH
August 4, 2023 / Warner Bros. Pictures Canada
Starring: Jason Statham, Wu Jing, Sophia Cai, Page Kennedy, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Skyler Samuels, Sienna Guillory, Cliff Curtis
Directed By: Ben Wheatley
For 65 million years, The Meg has ruled the world and brought destruction with it. Thus Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) leads a daring research team on an exploratory dive into the deepest depths of the ocean.
Their voyage spirals into chaos when a malevolent mining operation and violent threats from the biggest Meg in history threatens their mission and forces them into a high-stakes battle for survival. Pitted against colossal Megs and relentless environmental plunderers, our heroes must outrun, outsmart, and out swim their merciless predators in a pulse-pounding race against time, while keeping themselves and the citizens of a remote island alive.
Written By Darren
Rating 3 out of 5
Meg 2: The Trench serves up all the outrageous shark mayhem that audiences could ever want, doubling down on the absurdity and while the story is even more lacking than the first film, Jason Statham and director Ben Wheatley have conjured up pure blockbuster entertainment.
When The Meg was released back in 2018, aside from its genius marketing which had pictures of humans and their nutritional facts as shark food, I was incredibly underwhelmed by the blockbuster. It took itself far too seriously, getting bogged down by its over dramatic story that buried the shark mayhem that the trailers promised. It wanted to be Jaws, despite having none of Jaws’s skillful building of fear by not showing the shark, instead showing the giant megalodon but not allowing it to go on a true rampage. I’m still shocked that a sequel was greenlit, and despite almost no marketing for Meg 2: The Trench and a quiet release in August, the film is everything the original wasn’t, simultaneously being both better and worse than its predecessor.
After a deep sea exploration mission gone wrong, Jonas Taylor finds himself and his team of explorers stranded in the depths of the ocean. With limited oxygen, Jonas must lead his team across the depths of the trench, fending off deadly enemies and thwarting a malevolent mining operation, all while ensuring that the prehistoric monsters in the depths of the ocean do not reach the surface and wreak havoc on humanity.
The film relies heavily on the star power and charisma of Statham, and you can’t go wrong with him as your lead. Statham is always a natural action star with his signature gruffness and tough persona, and he fully commits to the absurdity of the premise as he faces off against the megalodons in the final act. While doing so, Statham creates a fatherly bond with Shuya Sophia Cai’s character, trying to infuse the film with some emotional stakes to keep the audience invested while the action is not exploding across the screen. There is truly no other star I would want to watch other than Statham in this type of film, and I am all ready for him to do it once again should a third film be made. Jing Wu has a wonderful on screen banter with Statham, matching Statham’s energy and bravado to create a fun co-lead. Sienna Guillory and Skyler Samuels are woefully misused in such derivative roles that will cause just a few eye rolls, while Cliff Curtis is decent. Though, it is Page Kennedy, returning as DJ, who is the scene stealer of the film. His wonderful comedic timing creates the best moments of the film, playing off his character’s weaknesses from the first film and overcompensating for them, resulting in one brilliant laugh after another.
It’s rare for a sequel to be better than the original, though Meg 2: The Trench accomplishes exactly that. Sure, from a storytelling perspective it's without a doubt a mess, but it never for a second loses sight of the fact that this is a film about massive, extinct sharks terrorizing and eating humans. This is not the film you watch for story, but a film you watch for popcorn entertainment and chaos, and it delivers that in spades. Jason Statham lights up the screen as he squares off against multiple megalodons in a truly spectacular third act which produces the absurd, over the top and thrilling shark mayhem that audiences could only conjure up in their wildest daydreams, ensuring that Meg 2: The Trench is a totally bonkers and entertaining experience.
By the end of the first scene, which features a megalodon eating a tyrannosaurus-rex, you know exactly what type of film you are getting with Meg 2: The Trench. Leaning in hard to the campy vibe that we only saw glimpses of in the first film, the film is full of shark mayhem. The first half plays out like a standard Jason Statham action film with an incredibly generic, bland and questionable story, setting itself up for a wild second half. And once the film enters that second half, it does not let up for a second. There are multiple megalodons, chasing and being chased by Statham, snacking on unexpecting humans, and other prehistoric monsters wreaking havoc, creating the most absurd set piece of the summer. It’s a deliciously affair, leaving a gleeful smile on your face as you watch humans become snacks for the megalodons as Statham squares off against them. Don’t get me wrong, it's absolutely ridiculous and over the top in every way imaginable with some at times questionable CGI, that without question will turn off anyone looking to take the film seriously. But if you are able to sit back, turn off your mind and enjoy the mayhem that unfolds, you are in for a treat that will have you laughing and cheering for the entire final act.
It comes as no surprise that the story this time around is weaker than the first film. The first film spent too much time on its story, trying to be serious without any real character development. On one hand, the sequel avoids this problem which is nice, but at the same time the story is very hollow. The story is generic and predictable, featuring evil business people trying to make money, with some throw-away lines about preserving the ecosystem so it can pretend to be more insightful than it actually is. It’s just enough to set the stage for the megalodons to be unleashed on the surface in the second half, and at that point it completely forgets about any remnants of the story and delivers a mayhem filled extravaganza. If you’re watching Meg 2: The Trench for its story, you’ve picked the wrong film because even though the screenplay is bad, it delivers the promised thrills and excitement that audiences are looking for from a monster summer blockbuster tentpole.