Director: Jon Turteltaub
Cast: Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, Cliff Curtis
Jason Statham against a 75-foot-long prehistoric shark – that was enough to convince me to show up at 9.30 am at the theatre for The Meg. And I have to say, I had a good time.
The Meg is one of those cheerfully cheesy popcorn movies, which you aren’t meant to take seriously. It’s based on the bestselling book Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror. The Meg or Megalodon is a giant, monstrous shark believed to be extinct. But lo and behold, thanks to greedy humans messing around, it emerges from the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in the ocean. So who you going to call? The Stath of course!
The Meg has a Chinese co-producer so the leading lady is Chinese – the gorgeous Li Bingbing – and the action takes place off the coast of China. We get a romantic angle between Statham, playing a disgraced diver Jonas, and Li, as Suyin, the brave daughter of a famed oceanographer. To up the emotional stakes, we also get the adorable Shuya Sophia Cai, who plays Suyin’s daughter. At one point, the little girl is attacked by the Meg. I jumped hard enough to spill the drink I was holding.
But please don’t stress. The Meg is not the type of film, in which characters you care about die. Director Jon Turteltaub understands that we are here to enjoy a massive prehistoric monster, who, we are told, could rip a whale in half. In one scene, Jonas solemnly declares: Man versus Meg isn’t a fight. It’s a slaughter.
Not if the man in question is the Stath himself. This is a hero willing to jump into the ocean armed with only a spear-gun. Another character looks at this and says, ‘Hell yeah!’ That’s exactly what I was feeling. Statham combines a stoic strength with vulnerability. He’s not playing this for laughs but neither is he over-serious. Statham gets the inherent silliness of the narrative but he gives us a straight-up champion.
What’s less fun is the exposition and necessary lessons on how humans have messed with Mother Nature. The romantic angle between Jonas and Suyin will make you cringe – in one scene, she walks into his room without noticing that he has only a towel on. And they continue to flirt with each other even as they descend into the ocean to battle a monster.
You’ll have to get past that. And focus instead on the impressive giant CGI shark, a surprising mid-film twist and the climax when through some supremely illogical turn of events, we get Statham going mano a mano against the shark. Which is exactly what we paid for.