Meg 2: The Trench might test your general knowledge at times, but in its own way it does entertain
Think of any disaster movie and then note down a list of elements that can be found in every film of that genre. There is a protagonist who does no wrong, his friends or family who are in trouble and an antagonist who is a good guy in the beginning but turns evil for his selfish reasons when least expected. Meg 2: The Trench ticks every item on the checklist but since it has Jason Statham, the audience expects fireworks even if they were underwater. Add some Jurassic Park feel and some elements from the first Jaws sequel and voila, there is a disaster flick that will keep you entertained, only if you promise not to use your brains.
Based on Steve Alten’s novel The Trench, the film comes out as too long, with too much action and it might seem okay to action aficionados out there, however serious film viewers will get bored once the film moves into the second half. What else would you say if you found yourself witnessing a fight between a prehistoric shark and a T-Rex, despite no clear evidence that the two existed in the same era. Think of completing the film without using your brain!
The film’s director Ben Wheatley even admitted in an interview that he took a lot of influence from Jaws, which he not only considers as the greatest shark film, but one the greatest films of all time. He added that by adding normal people as characters he made the film more relatable than superhero flicks which is what goes in favour of the film.
He also hailed Jason Statham who returns to the franchise as the one who hunts Meg, and termed him a great support.
‘He’s across the script’, the director said about his star. ‘He’s across every aspect of the Jonas character. He’s also incredibly juiced into an understanding of action cinema, his own iconic image, and what makes a hero. What makes an audience love a movie and love an action film. So, it’s great to have that kind of wealth of experience and intelligence on your side. It’s a wealth of knowledge.’
Five years after the events of the first film, deep sea diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is back to fighting Megalodons but this time the situation is more dangerous since it involves ‘family’. Taylor’s step-daughter Meiying (Shuya Sophia Cai, reprising her role from the first film) is now a teenager and wants to be treated like an adult, to which Jonas doesn’t agree since he lost his wife and Meiying’s mother Suyin Zhang a few years earlier. His brother-in-law Jiuming Zhang (Wu Jing), who has acquired his father’s company after his death, seems to be on Meiying’s side and allows her to be with them when the team goes deep underwater.
Things begin to change rapidly once they find out that some of their trusted employees are working with another party which wants to take over the company Mana One, leaving Jonas and his family to fight on two fronts — underwater and on the ground. Do they succeed in their quest or does Mana One land in the hands of those who want to use it for their evil designs, you could only find out only after watching Meg 2: The Trench.
Jason Statham is the main attraction of the film as he takes the lead from the moment, he makes his entry. Not many know that Statham was an Olympic level diver before he turned to acting and represented Great Britian in the Commonwealth Games in 1990. Hence it wouldn’t be incorrect to say that he takes to water like a fish and excels in familiar territory. Since the rest of the cast doesn’t comprise of famous faces, Jason Statham takes the centrestage even in the scenes where he isn’t visible on the screen. Some might argue that his performance isn’t different from his work with other franchises like The Fast & The Furious, and The Transporter but he manages to entertain those fans who came to watch him fight the giant fish for the second time.
Unlike the first film, Meg 2: The Trench disappoints on many levels especially in the script department where forgettable characters were created just to support the main lead. They added more animals to make everything seem grand but that move backfired because the audience wanted to see Megs in action, not a squid, an octopus, or even an amphibious dinosaur. Making the megs play second fiddle is a mistake which should have been rectified before the film’s release. The makers could have trimmed the scenes where the other newer animals are seen in action or added more sequences featuring the megs but they chose not to and the result is in front of us.
There comes a time in the film when the viewers might forget that they are watching a Meg sequel because the megs are nowhere to be seen and Jason Statham takes the centrestage as the guy who can do anything. Had the makers remained faithful to the subject, the film might have done well but in their attempt to cater to their Chinese producers, they had to add stuff that otherwise would have made it to the recycle bin.
Add to that the huge climatic sequence at the Fun Island which is made up of elements from Jaws, Jurassic Park and all the other disaster films you might have seen somewhere. Yes, watching Jason Statham chasing a meg on a jet ski with a harpoon in his hand is a welcome sight but it comes so late into the movie that you might have lost interest but then. After all, what else is bound to happen when you don’t get to see giant sharks, in a film about giant sharks!
The film’s tone varies from time to time, on one occasion it seems like a disaster flick, on another occasion it turns into a rescue mission and finally goes into the territory of Tremors where monsters do what monsters are supposed to. Had the filmmakers watched Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous on Netflix, they would have realised that only kids are interested in dinosaurs these days and no one is afraid of them or their cousins anymore, otherwise the last Jurassic World flick would have been a blockbuster.
In simple words, the Meg sequel is more of an attempt to cash in the success of the first film instead of continuing the story in a better manner. It follows the path that eventually leads to more B-grade sequels than an A-grade one, and if the producers want to save themselves from sinking further, they will have to change their direction. Instead of useless story arcs that have nothing to do with the megs, they should make megs part of the story, and the main antagonist. They should also do away with the cliché dialogue that might seem memorable to the crowd that loves Expendables and incorporate meaningful dialogue that might have something to do with what Jonas does — save the ocean.
Things that made The Meg a smash hit at the box office seem to be missing in the sequel which takes place more underwater than above it. For an audience who had seen the sequels of Avatar and Black Panther last year, Meg 2: The Trench offers nothing new and despite some moments where the audience is shocked by the emergence of the Meg, everything else seems repetitive. The first film did well because it reminded the audience of the first Jaws film where the shark was the villain but instead of going on the same route again, the makers decided to add human villains to the equation, and this is where they lost the plot.
Had the audience wanted to watch Die Hard, or Under Siege, they would have preferred to watch the Bruce Willis and Steven Seagal flicks on the many OTT platforms out there, but they had paid for the sequel of The Meg, but what they got is a throwback to the 90s, for no reason. Instead, they got one-dimensional villains who wanted to control the world using Mana One technology, who were aided by stupid mercenaries and whose plans were disrupted by new vicious creatures who came out from nowhere.
Had the film ended half an hour early, it might have saved the producers from embarrassment but they seemed to forget in their excitement that whoever came up with the idea of combing elements from Jurassic Park, James Bond and The Meg isn’tn’t a friend or a well-wisher. Every character besides Jason Statham’s is forgettable and so is the movie, which could have done well had it been treated with love, and care.