Directed by: Jon Turteltaub
Written by: Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber
Starring: Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, Page Kennedy, Jessica McNamee, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Robert Taylor, Sophia Shuya Cai
Runtime: 114 min
A deep-sea submersible has been attacked by a massive creature, previously thought to be extinct, and now lies disabled at the bottom of the deepest trench in the Pacific ... with its crew trapped inside.
With time running out, expert deep-sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is recruited by a visionary Chinese oceanographer, Dr. Minway Zhang (Winston Chao), against the wishes of his daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing), to save the crew from this unstoppable threat: a pre-historic 75-foot-long shark known as the Megalodon.
A film involving a shark and starring Jason Statham? Well, if anyone goes into the theater with high expectations, then you haven't been to the movies since the 90s. Following 1975's Jaws, Hollywood has been trying to replicate the success of the most influential shark film of all-time ... Which only happens to be the only great shark movie since that time.
When I am about to watch this kind of films, my approach is always the same: if the movie is able to acknowledge its absurd plot and its dumbness, then I am all open to enjoy some simple-minded fun. However, if the film starts to go over its head, wanting something with more emotional weight and meaningful storylines, that is where I get frustrated. If your movie is filled with stereotypical characters, a generic plot, and a bunch of incongruencies, at least own it.
This is where The Meg fails to deliver. It does not know what it wants to be, the balance of tones is intolerable. Sometimes it tries to go for that dumb comedy with a lot of forced punchlines, but then it shifts, and Jon Turteltaub wants some character to cry over someone's death, literally a few minutes after another character makes a joke following yet another shark's meal. Turteltaub presents a really bad direction, regarding both story and cast.
Not only was he unable to establish what his film was going for, but he also didn't support his actors and actresses with the best pieces of advice. There are so many awkward moments with a lot of unfunny lines, and it can't be all the script's fault. Of course, the writers did a poor job writing the main plot and the character's scripts, but Turteltaub must know how to smooth that stuff out.
The story is as generic as you would expect. There is a monstrous shark that only kills non-protagonist characters because plot armor is something very relevant to the logic of a movie (not). Characters do stupid stuff that not even the dumbest person on Earth would do. Five minutes in and you can guess the entire story, and I mean details and everything. It is that obvious. Oh, and there is a romance. Almost forgot that incredibly developed subplot, uff!
Honestly, there are so many plot devices and so much silliness that even if the film owned it, I don't know how much of it I could take. Primarily due to the not-that-amusing script. I genuinely got angry with the shark because it had just eaten someone in a specific situation and literally in the next attack, a character is in the exact same conditions, and yet the shark decides to simply not do anything. If you want to protect your most important characters, at least put them through different circumstances, ones that I can look at with my blind eyes and think "you know what, maybe he/she could have actually survived that."
The casting is also pretty bad. I mean, Jason Statham is a badass as usual. He is always the one that carries these films and does not let them sink into the bottom of the ocean. It is evident that his character is the one that really matters since he is the only one receiving a compelling backstory, so naturally I care about him. Everyone else, not really. Bingbing Li (Suyin) is there for the forced romance, Rainn Wilson (Jack Morris) has the typical bigger-than-life personality of a billionaire, Sophia Shuya Cai is the adorable little girl, and everyone else is dispensable.
My issue is that even if the scripts are erroneousap, the actors make them even worse. Apart from Wilson, Li and Cliff Curtis (Mac), who don't shine but don't exactly screw up, everyone else is horrible. Page Kennedy (DJ) is supposedly the funniest character since he has all the punchlines and jokes. I mean, literally, every line he says is a joke. Problem is most of them are terrible. Ruby Rose (Jaxx) is so awful, especially when she has to cry. It is so poorly performed that a child could notice it is fake as hell. There are so many bad performances that I am surprised Statham didn't get caught by this wave.
Nevertheless, Statham and the Megalodon save this film from an even worse review. I am genuinely surprised at how freaking awesome the shark looks. Not only I was not expecting it looking so great, but the action scenes are also mostly pretty cool (having in mind the irrational part). The underwater scenes are very well-filmed, there was never an overly dark background, and the editing is seamless.
There are some clear influences from Jaws, mainly when it comes to the suspenseful moments. Even if the first two acts are sloppy, the last act is great fun, and it has a lot of fantastic shots of the giant shark. Entertainment-wise, it matters most how a movie ends than how it starts, so The Meg has that aspect going for it. Unfortunately, it doesn't succeed, and it definitely does not belong to the enormous (haha) list of "good shark films."
All in all, you don't really have to shut down your brain to actually enjoy this movie. The Meg follows pretty much every single thing you would expect from it, but it has a fantastic lead from the badass Jason Statham and a beautiful-looking colossal shark, which provides some chilling action scenes. Sadly, these two are the only good things about this flick with a generic plot, stereotypical characters, illogical moments and a bad casting. If you planned on seeing it, go for it. Maybe you like it, maybe you don't. If you didn't plan seeing it, then skip it. Not really worth it.