After escaping an attack by what he claims was by a 70-foot shark, Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) must confront his fears to save the crew of a billion-dollar research facility and help stop the Megalodon, a prehistoric shark that has been inadvertently loosed upon the South China Sea.
When you've got a movie that so deeply leans into its own ridiculousness - poster taglines for 'The Meg' include "Opening Wide", "Chomp On This" and "Pleased To Eat You" - it's kind of hard not to be taken in by it all. From the very opening scene of 'The Meg' right through to its freeze-frame laugh of an ending, there is no denying by anyone involved that 'The Meg' is what it is - a broad, crowd-pleasing summer shark movie. Based on a trashy paperback of the same name, the pulpy origins of the movie fit perfectly with the cast's talents.
You've got Jason Statham as the constantly snarling Jonas Taylor, who's haunted by his failure at the start of the movie, a love interest in the form of Li Bingbing, a billionaire investor played by 'The Office' alum Rainn Wilson who you're just aching to be eaten by the titular creature, a wise-cracking veteran played by Cliff Curtis, two other wise-cracking computer experts played by Ruby Rose and Page Kennedy, a cute kid and - of course - a giant CGI shark to zoom in and out of the dark to eat people left behind.
It's interesting to note that gorehound Eli Roth was the first choice to direct this, as you can see clearly how his sensibilities would have crafted an entirely different end product that would have undoubtedly been more vicious than what ended up on screen. Still, Jon 'National Treasure' Turtletaub is working firmly with an eye for creating easy and nifty entertainment that doesn't ask much of the audience and gives them exactly what they'd expect. At no point in 'The Meg' are you confused as to what's happening - not the least of which is because the actors literally announce what they're seeing and doing regularly - and the action follows a predictable throughline with the expected pay-offs along the way.
Jason Statham is able to get to grips with the cheesy one-liners as good as Arnold Schwarzenegger did back in the day, and seeing him literally battle a giant shark with his bare hands is fun and compelling, but everything else lacks any kind of punch. The ensemble cast are relegated to exposition with the odd ripple of humour here and there, whilst Rainn Wilson is completely mishandled as the smarmy investor. The dynamic between Jason Statham's ex-wife and love interest is bizarre and completely falls flat, there aren't half enough jokes and wit as there should be, but all in all - who cares when there's a giant shark swimming around the place? It's there where the movie's energies are best utilised as the shark flies out of the screen and really nestles that line between a rollercoaster experience and a theatrical one.
Never anything more or less than what you've bought and paid for, 'The Meg' doesn't bite off any more than it can chew and knows to swim in familiar waters rather than venture out into uncharted territory. It's safe, it's dependable, it's enjoyable.