Wow! Its been quite a while since I went to go see a movie at the theatres. The last one was probably Ocean’s Eight. I mean, aside from Fantasia where I’m still in a semi-break from movies but I love shark films and Jason Statham and The Meg has been one of those films that I’ve been anticipated the moment I knew of its existence so it was a opening weekend must-see for myself. Its taken a little bit to get this review up but better late than never. To be clear, I haven’t read the novel that this movie is based on so this is completely on how I felt about the movie and nothing related to how well the adaptation works.
Let’s check it out!
The Meg (2018)
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Cast: Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao, Shuya Sophia Cai, Ruby Rose, Page Kennedy, Robert Taylor, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Jessica McNamee
After escaping an attack by what he claims was a 70-foot shark, Jonas Taylor must confront his fears to save those trapped in a sunken submersible. – IMDB
Being a fan of shark films and Jason Statham, The Meg was one anticipated movie that truly delivered on all my expectations. Its refreshing to be able to say that. Shark films have a special place in my heart and the best comparison that I have for The Meg is something like Deep Blue Sea, which happens to be one of my favorite shark films ever. Featuring a 70 foot Megalodon as its star predator is a tough feat and director Jon Turteltaub does a great job at making sure that it holds the suspense and builds on using the underwater sequences to create the thrills with the unexpected. Sure, there are some parts here because of the Chinese collaboration that makes it build the story with some filler drama and romance that feels unnecessary but the cast here delivers on this simple script. Let’s face it, this is a shark movie and not some award-winning film. Its a popcorn flick meant to be entertaining and it does exactly that. There is some suspension of belief and some far-fetched ideas that they try hard to give us the justifications in the story which mostly works, but the thrills of the Meg is in some of the parallels and nods it gives to the ultimate shark movie, Jaws. For some, that might be issues because this isn’t quite the Spielberg masterpiece but for myself, it never was meant to be that so I appreciated it for being exactly what it was.
Looking at the cast, Jason Statham also does a great job at being the leading man. He still is equipped with his one liners and his hardcore tough guy act. It works for him and its what I love about the movies he is in. For that, he fits well into his role as Jonas. His sequences against the shark adds in those comedic touches before heading into the intense sequences against a prehistoric shark. Even tough guys get scared, they just mask it with some humor and it works so well for him. Its not often we see Jason Statham with a lot of romance in his films but as odd and misplaced as this one feels between him and the character played by Bingbing Li, there are some bonding moments here that also work out. It helps that Bingbing Li is not only a pretty face but also a talented actress. However, nothing quite steals the show like the little girl playing the daughter by Shuya Sophia Cai who is not the typical whiny and annoying little girl but one that is smart and knows her stuff around. She’s charming and cute and intelligent and some of the best moments are actually between her and Jason Statham.
Aside from these main players, there are a ton of familiar faces here. Playing the sponsor of the research facility is Rainn Wilson who plays this billionaire who goes to visit and has his mind on all the wrong things at times but does add a nice twist of giving the normal do everything to make this work character have a twist. While he isn’t straight and narrow and still makes some dumb decision in the end, it takes on another tangent. On the other hand, a lot of people aren’t a big fan of Ruby Rose but I’ve liked her style since her role in Orange is the New Black. As one note and as much as she is put in similar roles, I like the addition of that type of character. However, in this one, you end up losing count how many times she draws the short straw and ends up falling into the water.
As predictable as The Meg is and as forced as the romance here, The Meg knows what it is and it delivers exactly as expected. A 70 foot shark is a huge presence literally and Jon Turteltaub is masterful as making it scarce and taking his time to reveal this beast completely. There are incredible lighting and cinematography underwater that makes it all work so well. I probably should have mentioned this but I forked out the big bucks (because it was the only way my theatre was showing it) and saw it UltraAVX and 3D. Let me tell you, a lot of parts got me jumping in my seat and genuinely tense. It may be my love for shark films and just how thrilling these films can be but The Meg is a fun popcorn flick. There are some solid moments that are fairly unique to watch. Plus, it achieves a level of making the megalodon be scarce to build up the tense moments and it works out a lot of time. Running a fairly tight run time, it is pretty well-paced. Sure there are some filler material but it never lingers long enough to make it completely in the way of the real purpose we’re there: to see a prehistoric shark. Its a shark film, you’re either on board or you aren’t. Maybe its a simple way to put it but popcorn movies don’t need depth, it needs entertainment and I was thoroughly thrilled and entertained. I get the criticism and I have some of my own as you see, but its still a solid shark film.
I only wish that it does well enough to get a franchise going because I can’t wait to see Jason Statham get back into going against some more prehistoric underwater creatures. Now, that would be so awesome!