When you go to a film in which Jason Statham takes on a 70-foot prehistoric shark, you know exactly what you’re going to get – and The Meg delivers all the terrible puns, comedy deaths and thrilling action you’d expect.
Yes, everyone keeps accidentally falling in the sea at the worst possible moment. Yes, there’s at least one scene where Statham rips off his shirt and dives into the water to save an endangered crewmate. The Meg is, more or less, everything you want it to be.
But there are times where the film tips from ‘ridiculous and entertaining’ to just plain awkward. There’s an irritating child who grinds the film to a halt whenever she’s on screen, and the language barrier makes Li Bingbing’s performance stilted in dialogue-heavy scenes, although she handles the action well. Rainn Wilson’s not-quite-a-bad-guy could have done with being nastier, as the film finds itself lacking in the human antagonist department. The film also makes some attempts at addressing environmental issues – shark fin soup is bad, kids – most of which come across as weirdly jarring, following on as they usually do from puns about fishing trips.
Luckily, the general ensemble of human crewmates are a likeable bunch, and the megalodon – the prehistoric shark awakened from it’s slumber by pesky humans – is an impressive creation. It looks great, and there are some memorable shots of it, especially the trailer shot of it moving beneath swimming tourists.
There are some great visual gags – look out for the zorbing dude – and director Turteltaub puts together some good action scenes, especially anything involving Statham in the water. A trained diver, Statham is exactly the man you’d want taking on a giant shark, and the scenes that had the audience in our screening roaring their approval all involved him going mano a sharko. Is it believable that a megalodon could have survived into the modern day? No. But is it believable that, if one did, The Stath could totally take it out? Hell yes.