Directed by: Ben Wheatley
Written by: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, Dean Georgaris
Starring: Jason Statham, Wu Jing, Sophia Cai, Page Kennedy, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Cliff Curtis
Released: August 3, 2023
Grade: C+

Meg 2: The Trench

Released in 2018, The Meg was trashy and fun.  Those behind the production felt we’d had enough shark “thrillers” and so it was time for a Sharknado-style comedy to balance the ledger.  The idea paid off with the film making over $530 million USD at the worldwide box-office – more than three times the budget and enough to justify this 2023 sequel.  It too is based on a novel from sci-fi writer Steve Alten but there’s a new director this time around with Englishman Ben Wheatley (High-Rise) taking on responsibilities.

There’s an entertaining movie buried in here somewhere but for the most part, Meg 2: The Trench can’t fulfill its potential.  The opening hour is a complete write-off.  I’d almost suggest buying a ticket, having lunch/dinner, and then popping in at the half-way mark.  It’s centred on a group of scientists, headlined by Jason Statham leading character, who head 25,000 feet under the sea to map a previously unexplored section of the ocean.

They encounter trouble but (most of) our heroes are able to extricate themselves with the help of motivational speeches like “we’re a strong group… we can do this.”  They also have an ability to override the laws of physics, get extremely lucky when the time is right, and deal with villains and henchmen who are incredibly stupid.  The laughs are non-existent, and the focus is too much on the boring characters instead of the wacky, prehistoric sea creatures (feels weird saying that but it’s true).

Things improve towards the end of act two.  The characters return to the surface, visit a well-populated holiday island, and mayhem truly breaks out.  It finally reaches a point of over-the-top stupidity where you can laugh.  Bad folk meet a predictably humorous demise, even-bigger-than-last-time sharks are killed in creative fashion, and the scenarios become increasingly farcical with each passing minute.

Wheatley, with the help of Oscar nominated editor Jonathan Amos (Baby Driver), have struggled in pulling the material together.  We move too quickly between characters during the finale and some good one-liners are rushed.  I’ve no issue with the visual effects being deliberately goofy (at least I hope that’s what they intended) but the action scenes don’t flow – the editing it too chaotic and the camera locations are far from ideal.

It’s not easy making a good movie but Meg 2: The Trench also shows that it’s not easy making a good bad movie.