|Director: Ben Wheatley |
|Screenplay: Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber and Dean Georgaris (screen story by Dean Georgaris and Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber; based on the novel The Trench by Steve Alten)|
|Stars: Jason Statham (Jonas Taylor), Jing Wu (Jiuming Zhang), Sophia Cai (Meiying), Cliff Curtis (Mac), Page Kennedy (DJ), Sergio Peris-Mencheta (Montes), Skyler Samuels (Jess), Melissanthi Mahut (Rigas), Whoopie Van Raam (Curtis), Kiran Sonia Sawar (Sal), Felix Mayr (Lance) |
|MPAA Rating: PG-13|
|Year of Release: 2023|
|Country: U.S. / China|
Those who have been anxious for a sequel to The Meg (2018), the semi-ridiculous thriller about an enormous prehistoric shark unleased from the depths of the ocean, will get everything they probably wanted and more in Meg 2: The Trench, which features multiple enormous prehistoric sharks (shouldn’t it have been called Megs?), a giant squid, Jason Statham’s steely stare and bulging neck, and a gaggle of amphibious dinosaurs who prove that staying out of the water is no guarantee of safety. British director Ben Wheatley, who most recently helmed Netflix’s new adaptation of the Gothic romance Rebecca (2020) and the pandemic thriller In the Earth (2021), follows the same general path charted by The Meg director Jon Turtletaub, leavening visceral thrills with increasing absurdity to assure us that no one is taking any of this too seriously.
As noted, action mainstay Jason Statham returns as Jonas Taylor, a deep-sea pilot who now works as a one-man environmental enforcer when he’s not helping out on Mana One, the massive research operation that has in its possession a live megalodon. Jonas works alongside lead researcher Jiuming Zhang (Jing Wu), who is convinced that the megalodon is somehow trainable, while also helping to raise the headstrong teenager Meiying (Sophia Cai), whose mother was killed in the first film. Based on the second novel in the Meg series by Steve Alten, the plot is fast and furious, introducing all manner of dangers and threats, some of which come from undersea behemoths and some of which come from murderous humans, namely Montes (Sergio Peris-Mencheta), a vicious mercenary running an illegal mining operation at the bottom of the Marianas Trench who is secretly working for someone close to Jonas and Jiuming.
Much chaos and violence ensues, with various prehistoric creatures once again escaping through the thermocline (a layer of water creating a false bottom to the ocean, below which prehistory survives and thrives) and wreaking havoc at an idyllic resort. One of the film’s better sequences finds Jonas, Jiuming, Meiying, and several other characters having to walk across the bottom of the trench from their downed submersible to the mining operation with only a bare minimum of oxygen and a maximum of external threats that are drawn to their lights. It’s a good, tense sequence that relies more on old-fashioned suspense than raving monstrosities. But, it is the monstrosities who rule the day, and Wheatley unleashes everything he has in the final 20 minutes, giving us megalodon pier chomping, squid tentacle stabbing, and Jason Statham fisticuffs and wave runner racing. It’s all delightfully absurd and not quite as good as you’re hoping it might be, partially because the special effects are so uneven, ranging from the genuinely impressive, to the cartoonish. Nevertheless, Meg 2 delivers most of what you would expect with self-aware humor and a go-for-broke mentality.
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