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Meg-a Dull

The final image of The Meg is a tongue-in-cheek, punny “Fin.” If only the rest had that dad humor.

It’s odd to consider The Meg’s sin is in trying to gain empathy for its characters. From the outset as a team of submersible pilots end up trapped on the ocean floor, The Meg is always about saving someone from the main cast from a big fish. More so than Jaws, this 75-footer has an eye out for anyone whose name graces the poster. Anyone else on the planet not so much. Jason Statham gets experienced as the lead people saver guy.

These people work aboard a high-tech science rig. It’s owned by Hollywood’s latest drop-in villain – the tech billionaire in tennis shoes, this time played by Rainn Wilson. Expensive science goes wrong. Killer shark is loosed. Billionaire wants to exploit it. This is typically the plot of the low-rent monster movie sequel. Instead, this is the first, and hardly any of author Steve Alten’s fun page turner translates to the cinema.

… less likely to lure the shark than it is drowsiness

Statham speaks a few lines that generate a popcorn smile, but the rest trudges on with little immediacy. The Meg feels like it came from an editor’s chopping block with an exec standing over their shoulder, trying to mold this into something marketable. The Meg does that, a memorable example a “best stuff is in the trailer” movie. And don’t worry: the dog lives.

To be frank, either the characters take on a lasting appeal like in Jaws or become a retread of Deep Blue Sea; that’s where the two shark movie lines are drawn. Unfortunately, The Meg doesn’t have the wacky enthusiasm of Deep Blue Sea, and it certainly doesn’t have Quint. Instead, it’s a box office lure, blending nationalities for the sake of worldwide box office allure rather than a story of cooperation between nations. It’s a failure in drawing enthusiasm. Outside of Page Kennedy who tries his damnedest to raise this material from the shallows, no one exhibits any genuine energy.

That lack of caffeinated thrills carries into the pacing, less likely to lure the shark than it is drowsiness. After waiting some 90-minutes for the burly fish to do something other than munch on one or two people at a time, the prehistoric ocean carnivore approaches a packed Taiwanese beach. Maybe The Meg is about to make a point about overpopulation, but no. The shark is as disinterested as the audience, causing minimal chaos and barely upping the body count.

Does Jason Statham punch the shark? Yes, actually. Sort of anyway (The Meg is the type of blockbuster that demands concessions be made). It’s a movie on the hunt for thrills, but doesn’t land any of them. There’s no one sequence that successfully titillates or entertains to any degree. It tries. There’s even a giant squid, and not even that can elevate The Meg. The jump scares run dry, and the number of unlikely near misses as the shark tries clamping down on Statham is a tiresome exercise in repetition.

The Meg
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Jason Statham entangles himself in a killer shark flick, but The Meg lacks energy, urgency, and thrills – all simultaneously.

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