“That living fossil ate my friend!” is just one of the many laughable lines in The Meg, a film about a deep-sea rescue diver fighting the world’s biggest shark.
Statham plays Jonas, a diver who briefly encountered a Meg five years earlier. After swearing off rescue diving (who could blame him) he’s lured back in the water to help save his ex-wife and her crew. The group is trapped in a deep-sea submersible miles beneath a research facility. The group is being attacked by a Megalodon aka The Meg, a prehistoric shark thought to be extinct.
Jonas rescues the group, but that’s only the start of his troubles. The Meg has resurfaces and Jonas and his ragtag group must stop it before it goes on a killing spree.
For a film about a killer shark, The Meg is a silly comedy from beginning to end. Statham and the supporting cast are playing it straight, yet everything happening around them feels like a goofy Jaws parody. Seriously, the story has all the ingredients for a parody: Rainn Wilson plays the eccentric billionaire, Robert Taylor is the non-shark adversary, Cliff Curtis is the reliable friend, Ruby Rose is the smart tech person, Page Kennedy represents the audience – he throws his hands up and asks all the pertinent questions and has a “Why are we doing this?” look on his face. And Bingbing Li is the shoe-horned in love interest, despite Jonas’ ex-wife being on the ship for 80% of the film. That’s without mentioning how laughably large the shark is.
The film’s characters don’t have much chemistry. The film alternates from a brooding Statham to characters giving their best pseudo science explanations or mourning their fish food friends. The script does give Suyin (Bingbing Li) time to awkwardly flirt with Jonas – those scenes are more painful than being bite by a shark.
Shark attack movies are delightful for one reason and one reason alone – people getting eaten by sharks. People should be eaten early and often. The Meg delivers some great attack scenes, but the film’s tightrope between comedy and horror takes away some of the bite (no pun intended). There’s a scene where Suyin goes into a shark cage so she can inject the shark with poison. The scene goes from terrifying, as she stares out into blue void hoping to see a shark, to a Sharknado level of ridiculousness as Jonas attempts to rescue her. The Meg isn’t sure if it’s a comedy or an action film so it settles for being mediocre at both.
As bad as the dialogue and characters are, and despite how mediocre the story is, The Meg succeeds at being entertaining. With the right crowd, it’s a fun movie going experience. With the wrong crowd, the 113 min runtime feels like 150 mins. The Meg is funny, albeit mostly unintentional comedy, and witty at times. It’s a big budget B movie with a few big names. If the film had been comfortable in its B-movie skin, it could’ve been a lot more fun.