It needs to be said that I am actually a big fan of garbage fish movies. I am not above a little schlock and guilty pleasures. In fact, I welcome them, particularly the ones willing to admit their own ridiculousness and lean into it hard. There’s nothing quite like a good old fashioned killer shark story, and while the spectrum of good, bad and ugly is wide and varied, you’ll usually find whatever you’re looking for. To put an even finer point on this, I’m actually a big fan of “Sharknado” and stand by “Santa Jaws” as a masterpiece of B-movie trash. All that being said, I found “The Meg” surprisingly fun and I was actually excited for a sequel.
So you can understand my immense disappointment and dislike of “Meg 2: The Trench” and that it doesn’t come from a place of “condescending stuffy film critic can’t handle fun movies.” It isn’t even dumb fun, it’s just dumb; vapid and void of all the things that made the first one so entertaining and commits all of the worst sequel mistakes to deliver a dull, often Meg-less, Meh-ga disappointment.
Directed by Ben Wheatley (“Free Fire,” “In the Earth“) and written by Jon and Erich Hoeber and Dean Georgaris, “Meg 2: The Trench” sees the return of Jason Statham as Jonas Taylor, the only man to kill a megalodon and live to tell the tale. Now moonlighting as a sort of James Bond of Environmental Protection (more on that later) he is part of a research team that has been exploring The Trench since the events of the last film. While on a dive mission, a captured Meg (don’t ask) escapes and follows them into the trench (again, don’t ask) only for them to discover and illegal mining operation deep in the undiscovered territory. After trying to hide the evidence by setting off an explosion (that also doesn’t do anything because all of the evidence is literally still in tact…you know what? none of this shit makes any sense I don’t know why I’m trying to explain it) that opens a hole in the trench layer. This allows for more Megs to be unleashed as well as some other prehistoric creatures to reach the surface. The only returning cast members from “The Meg” are Cliff Curtis as Mac, Page Kennedy as DJ (who is now for no reason at all a master of Statham fight skills), and Sophia Cai (now 14 years old and unrecognizable) as Meiying Zhang. Don’t worry if you don’t remember any of them. They’re all basically different people and surrounded by a giant cast of new characters that film the screen with almost zero value.
The only thing that makes sense in “Meg 2: The Trench” IS that nothing makes sense. There’s honestly no point in trying to dissect this thing. It is astounding how much happens for nothing to happen at all, and the fact that we don’t actually get any real Meg action until about 1 hour, 15 minutes into it should tell you everything you need to know. Sadly, if you’ve seen the trailer, then you’ve seen just about every relevant creature action sequence in the entire film. The rest of the near 2 hour runtime is filled with inexplicable filler, convoluted subplots and uninteresting human characters. If you came to “Meg 2: The Trench” to watch Statham punch giant sharks in the face, then you’ve unfortunately come to the wrong movie. This sequel feels more like a standard Jason Statham action film that happens to feature Megs once in a while. Everyone is forgettable, every decision exhaustingly stupid, and even for made up science it doesn’t even obey its own broken rules.
Here’s an example of how uninterested Wheatley seems to be with actual Meg action. There’s a great scene where we finally get the long awaited face off between Statham and not one, not two, but 3 Megs. He’s on a jetski with makeshift harpoon bombs strapped to his back. This is what I paid for when I showed up for “Meg 2: The Trench,” so instead of just going balls to the wall with this, the film inexplicably cuts to show…a shootout?! The Megs are almost immediately abandoned for this, followed by a mano y mano fisty cuffs fight on a bridge, because who wants those pesky sharks in your shark movie? Remember when I said Statham is like the James Bond of the sea? That’s because the film opens with him in a shipping container on a cargo ship dumping toxic waste into the ocean. He uses his clever bomb skills (you know the bomb class you take when you’re a world class diver) to break out of the container, gather evidence around the boat, and go full “Transporter” on the crew once he’s discoverd. Oh, and his great escape is by a plane scooping him up from the ocean with a (you guessed) special breathing contraption.
It’s this kind of inane and pointless action shlock that takes away from the far more interesting, marketed shark attack shlock. Everyone is a caricature, the creatures feel like an afterthought, and any time “Meg 2: The Trench” gets interesting it decides to pivot and focus on something else. Or it’s filmed so poorly you’ll be hard pressed to have any idea what the hell is going on. Look, this is already too many words to tell you that “Meg 2: The Trench” is a massive let down, a folly of ambition and poor execution and victim of classic sequilitis: always going bigger instead of better. “The Meg” wasn’t a great film by any stretch, but for all its ridiculousness it was grounded and focused enough within its own laws, and was entertaining enough to be an enjoyable time at the movies. The same can’t be said for the follow up, which misses the mark entirely and makes the case to leave “Meg 2: The Trench” at the bottom of ocean where it belongs.
Sidenote: you should totally watch “Santa Jaws” instead. Classic b-movie garbage fish that is so bad it’s good and is hard to forget in the best of ways. It’s really sad that “Meg 2: The Trench” is so bad I’m over here recommending the depths of Amazon dumpster fire shark films instead.
This is not the Meg that was promised. Maybe check out Steve Alten’s books instead.
Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars
“Meg 2: The Trench” is now playing in theaters. You can watch the trailer below.