“The Meg” stars Jason Statham. There’s a giant shark. Its tagline is “Pleased to eat you.” There is no need for a review. You know exactly what you’re getting into here but, because I am paid by the word, here we go.
Based on the book Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten, “the Meg” sees action-man Statham play Jonas Taylor, a rescue diver who must face his fears to save the crew of a marooned deep-sea submersible from a fate worse than sharknado. Think Quint from “Jaws” without the expressive range. Years before Taylor narrowly escaped being eaten by a 70-foot shark, the Carcharodon megalodon—“Meg” for short—a 100,000 pound, prehistoric great white thought to have been extinct for about 2 million years. Now it appears the giant beast is back and hungry for the crew trapped inside the submersible. Hired by Chinese oceanographer (Winston Chao) Taylor must not only save the stranded sailors but also make sure the Meg doesn’t eat the world… or something. “Man versus Maggie isn’t a fight,” he grunts, “it’s a slaughter.
“The Meg” tries to take all of the thrills of Shark Week and compress them into two hours. It almost gets there but not quite. There are some silly thrills but humungous squids, scientific mumbo jumbo and b-movie dialogue that would make Roger Corman blush buffer the excitements.
“The Meg” is ridiculous. Start to finish. It’s a giant shark story that plays like a watery “Valley of Gwangi.” The key to its ridiculous effervescence is twofold. First, the aforementioned giant shark. Second, Jason Statham, the po-faced hero who, deep down, knows this is silly but is too stoic to admit it to himself or to us. Some people are method actors, relying on past experiences to create their performances. Statham simply glowers. He’s an actor whose dead-eyed stares make up 95% of his method. Running, punching and blowing up sharks comprise the other 5%. Range? He don’t need no stinking range, he just needs to save the world or at least whatever is in peril. A reassuring presence, he’s exactly the same in every movie regardless of the plot. No surprises, just extreme machismo with a side order of sentimentality. Here it works. He’s like a silent movie star, easy to read and fun to watch and without him “The Meg” wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.
“The Meg” has a few scenes that’ll make you chew your popcorn a bit faster and doesn’t skimp on the silly. In fact, there probably won’t be a more hare-brained underwater adventure this year until “Aquaman.”