File Under 2018 #100: The Meg


What it's about: Jonas Taylor is a deep-sea rescue diver with a troubled past. On a job involving a nuclear submarine, he made the tough choice to leave friends behind in order to save the lives of a majority of the ship's crew. Now spending his days drinking and bumming on a Thai beach, Jonas is approached by old colleagues for another job. Off the coast of China, a group of scientists working from a high-tech underwater research lab have made an incredible breakthrough, finding a new ecosystem beneath what was thought to be the ocean's floor. Their discovery has dangerous consequences, however, as they've broken the seal that kept a prehistoric monster, the Megalodon, out of our world.

Unorganized thoughts [Finally Getting Around to It Edition]

  • I saw The Meg about a week ago and wasn't really in much of a hurry to write out my thoughts on the internet. That isn't because I had some unconventional opinion but basically the opposite ... There isn't much interesting I can say about The Meg because it just isn't very interesting.

  • By the time I saw The Meg, the general consensus had already been established and so I didn't have very high expectations going in. If I didn't already know what to basically expect, The Meg probably would have been a bigger let down.

  • The elements are there: Jason Statham, giant shark ... do you need anything else? On that level, those things certainly exist in the movie, but The Meg doesn't really do anything interesting with them. Statham comes out unscathed, it certainly isn't his worst film or performance, but he never comes across like the kind of movie star he could be. As for the shark, The Meg does nothing creative in its design or menace. It is simply a bigger version of a thing.

  • The most surprising thing about The Meg is that it completely skirts any tongue-in-cheek vibe. This isn't a Jaws parody that one might expect and it also doesn't even have the tenacity or over-the-top nature of the Piranha series. It doesn't even seem to be trying to be a bigger, badder version of that shark film despite the premise almost literally being a bigger, badder version of that shark film. The film doesn't push the envelope in horror or action in any way whatsoever.

  • As a monster movie with a big ensemble cast, just about the easiest thing The Meg could have done was structure itself around a series of kills, shark related or otherwise. I suppose there are memorable death scenes in the film [Rain Wilson's billionaire, for example, is set up as a centerpiece death] but there are none that are particularly inventive. A half-dozen or so people getting chomped on, that's basically it.

  • Opening up the world to include other threats would have given a little more flavor, as well -- as can be seen in the marketing, a giant squid makes an appearance, which is pretty cool, and The Meg could have used more of that.

  • The weirdest sections of The Meg involve a put-upon romantic angle between Statham's Jonas and single-mother scientist Suyin, played by Chinese actress Li Bingbing. I'll give the film marks for shooting for a more well-rounded entertainment experience, but it completely falls flat. Statham isn't exactly a romantic lead and he doesn't have any chemistry with Li. Worse, it is played off as incredibly chaste, perhaps trying too hard to be a family friendly, international friendly film.

  • The Meg could have had potential but only in a version of the film that was clearly not the film that The Meg strives to be. In a strange way, that actually shifts any potential disappointment to a realization that The Meg just wasn't for me. Oh well.