That’s why part of me thought The Meg might work. A modern, action-heavy take on Jaws with some charismatic actors might make waves on the big screen. But, unfortunately, the film falls into the standard traps of the summer blockbuster, offering the occasional quip or solid cinematography but not enough so to distract from the film’s overall lack of substance.
Statham plays Jonas Taylor, an ex-rescue diver who is forced back into action when his ex-wife and her diving crew are trapped in a submarine. The team work for billionaire Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson) and scientist Suyin (Li Bingbing), who are attempting to discover a biome underneath the previously recorded lowest point on Earth. But when the rescue attempt causes a megalodon, a supposedly extinct giant shark, to escape, Taylor and the team must stop it before it kills a shit ton of innocent people.
The Meg is exceedingly tropey. The characters are all stereotypes to a tee. And the plot is as predictable as one would expect from this kind of movie. I don’t even really feel the need to describe the nature of the character archetypes featured in the film, because I am certain you have already figured out what all the characters are like. Sure, they all have a few decent one-liners that break up the monotony of their dialogue. But the majority of the quips fall flat, especially when they create tonal whiplash. For example, characters make jokes in the same sentence that they talk about the friends they just watched die.
And like a lot of recent action fare, there is the occasional decent shot and the score is pretty good (it’s by the guy who scored Shrek, so of course its gold). But the standard conventions of PG-13 action still stand. The camera shakes all the fuck over the place, so you can’t really see what’s going on. There aren’t many opportunities for Statham to show off his action choreography chops, seeing as he isn’t fighting people but a big ass shark. The majority of the action involves watching either a big shark eating people without actually being able to really see it, or Statham flailing around in the water and piloting a submarine, both of which are exceedingly dull.
I just read that The Meg was originally going to be an over-the-top R-rated bloodbath film. Maybe then it could have at least been fun. But the appeal to a more massive audience robbed the film of most of its potential hyper-violent glee. What results is something generic and expected. It is the quintessential bland August release.