Meg 2: The Trench Movie Review

Meg 2 The Trench Movie Review Jason Statham

It deeply pains me, a dedicated defender of “The Meg” and an ardent aficionado of shark movies, to convey the unfortunate truth that “Meg 2: The Trench,” directed by Ben Wheatley, is an immense catastrophe. Just as a careless student caught cheating on a neighbor’s exam, the trio of writers—Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, and Dean Georgaris—have clumsily adapted Steve Alten’s “The Trench,” blatantly “borrowing” elements from superior films that share the aspiration of unleashing both extraterrestrial and terrestrial monsters, exacting a harsh toll on humanity (which, regrettably, we may deserve). This film shamelessly pilfers signatures from works like James Cameron’s “Aliens,” Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park: The Lost World,” William Eubank’s “Underwater,” and more, inviting inevitable comparisons that consistently disfavor this exasperating cinematic release of 2023’s summer. While the realm of megalodon-centric movies remains sparsely populated, “Meg 2: The Trench” manages to replicate a creature feature that seems all too familiar, akin to something one might stumble upon during late-night cable surfing, momentarily gripping our attention before we seek more captivating televised content.

Jason Statham reprises his role as the exceptional diver Jonas Taylor. However, the trio of writers displays minimal effort in acquainting the audience with his prior exploits in the domain of aquatic cryptozoology. The off-screen removal of Suyin Zhang—Li Bingbing’s character—creates an opening for Suyin’s brother, Jiuming (portrayed by Chinese action star Wu Jing), to step in as Statham‘s companion. It’s truly regrettable, as the loss of the appealing romantic tension between the charming and multi-dimensional Statham and Li profoundly deflates the essence of “Meg 2.” Statham regresses into the realm of clichéd action-hero stereotypes, reminiscent of his less memorable endeavors, and his portrayal as the “Protective Father Figure Statham” overseeing the return of Sophia Cai as Meiying Zhang, Suyin’s perpetually poor-decision-making daughter, is less endearing. The nameless companions, meeting their underwhelming fates, magnify the frustrating disbalance between the toothless deep-sea terrors and the B-movie aspirations that unintentionally invite laughter for all the wrong reasons—ultimately leaving the film’s substance quite superficial.

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A feeble screenplay, lacking any meaningful connection between “The Meg” and “Meg 2,” immediately raises concerns. Georgaris and the Hoeber brothers forsake any semblance of thoughtful writing as they introduce rivals who infiltrate Jiuming’s oceanic research project. The narrative stumbles through waterlogged action sequences, loosely tethered by storytelling tropes that have become worn and corroded. It exudes the confidence and craftsmanship reminiscent of a Syfy Original endowed with a Warner Bros. Discovery budget, a departure that is distressingly distant from Wheatley’s typically more sharp-witted cinematic endeavors. The dialogue drips from the characters’ mouths as if composed by an AI program fed a steady diet of great white shark-themed schlock, akin to the likes of “Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre” or “Jersey Shore Shark Attack” (both real titles). The film hurtles forward with a plot so basic that it could be likened to a fusion of Weyland-Yutani from “Alien” meeting the premise of “Deep Blue Sea.”

Regrettably, “Meg 2” descends into a visual eyesore, particularly in its second act, after an initial portion that primarily takes place underwater. The emergence onto the surface brings forth scenes of sea monster feeding frenzies set against the backdrop of an Instagrammable paradise, unimaginatively labeled “Fun Island.” While there are moments of visual splendor as Taylor guides divers in exosuits across “The Trench,” revealing the captivating beauty of uncharted ocean depths – neon tendrils swaying with the currents and baby octopi displaying a spectrum of colors like a collection of Skittles – the visual allure wanes as the action moves ashore. Attack sequences become cringe-worthy spectacles as computer-generated megalodons, human prey, and splashes of water awkwardly overlap one another. The digital effects in the latter half of the film appear hastily executed, in stark contrast to the more impressive visual quality observed in its earlier segments. It’s almost as if an entirely different team, from the director downwards, hurriedly reassembled everything under tight budgetary constraints. This could also explain the lackluster production design surrounding Fun Island, which fails to imbue vacant spaces with any semblance of life, ultimately detracting from the inherent beauty of the scenic Chinese landscapes.

Meg 2: The Trench Jason Statham

Even a frenzy of destruction fails to rescue “Meg 2” from its downfall. Statham and Wu engage in a battle against megalodons using makeshift explosive spears while mounted on personal watercraft, akin to jousters during a spring break spectacle. However, the violence leaves no lasting impact. The bloodshed in “Meg 2” remains restrained within PG-13 boundaries and revolves entirely around animal encounters—a contrast to the first film, which managed to avoid this limitation through heightened tension, exhilarating thrills, and a more cohesive tonal mastery. A few spine-chilling moments arise when a megalodon emerges from the pitch-black depths of The Trench and glides past Taylor’s state-of-the-art submersible, valued at billions. Yet, true horror remains conspicuously absent throughout the rest of the narrative. The recurring imagery of megalodons swallowing victims whole, presumably to avoid gory injuries, overstays its welcome.

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The nosedive of “Meg 2” is astonishing, considering the initial third of the film—a segment focused on survival horror within The Trench—achieves a modest level of engagement. Regrettably, the subsequent two-thirds plummet like a statue submerged with concrete shoes. As performances become increasingly lackluster and the attention to special effects wavers (as previously noted), the overall quality deteriorates. Noteworthy guests at Fun Island come across like affluent Patreon supporters who secured minor speaking roles through substantial donations—this observation doesn’t absolve top-billed actors such as Sienna Guillory or Skyler Samuels, whose lackluster portrayals won’t find their way onto demo reels. Even seemingly innocuous ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) lines—standard in all films—display a clumsiness that diverges from the meticulous attention to detail that Wheatley demonstrated in “Kill List” and “Sightseers.”

“Meg 2: The Trench” shines brightest when it embraces the simpler pleasures of shark-infested scenarios, reminiscent of its predecessor. Page Kennedy steals the spotlight as the returning engineer DJ, shedding his timid demeanor to emerge as an action hero this time around. Cliff Curtis injects humor by trading quips with Statham’s more rugged protagonist, eliciting an occasional smirk. Swarms of reptilian mini-predators wreak havoc upon Taylor’s colleagues in The Trench, presenting an additional threat that introduces much-needed adversarial dynamics. These glimpses offer a glimpse of a superior “Meg 2: The Trench,” helmed by a filmmaker who exudes passion for their vision. In contrast, the remaining elements of the film resemble formulaic studio fare, prioritizing spectacle over substance or genuine artistic dedication.

 Meg 2  Jason Statham

“Meg 2: The Trench” – A Lackluster Voyage into Familiar Waters

“Meg 2: The Trench” resembles the tedium of solitary fishing for a fruitless two-hour stretch. Behind the camera, Wheatley appears as a mere shadow of his former self, lacking the distinctiveness and ingenuity that once defined him. If you’re going to replicate profit-chasing storylines, underwater escape scenarios, and fatalities involving imploding helmets from superior films, perhaps consider a subtler approach? This becomes even more crucial when it becomes apparent that the studio decision-makers exhibit a lackluster commitment to crafting a sequel that stands on its own merits. “Meg 2: The Trench” emerges as a colossal misstep, akin to a megalodon-sized blunder, clumsily patched together from borrowed fragments scattered across the annals of genre history. Sadly, these components lose their potency and vibrancy when placed in the hands of significantly less capable creators.

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