Meg 2: The Trench Takes a Lazy Bite Out of Summer Blockbuster Season
Title: Meg 2: The Trench
First Non-Festival Release: July 28, 2023 (Premiere)
Director: Ben Wheatley
Writer: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, Dean Georgaris
Runtime: 116 Minutes
Starring: Jason Statham, Jing Wu, Shuya Sophia Cai
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Spending his time orchestrating hits on environmental terrorists since his last run in with a megalodon, Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) agrees to a research mission which deploys him once again to the depths of a trench where ancient creatures live. After a conspiracy threatens the lives of his crew, Jonas works to bring his people back up to the surface to safety only to find that not one but three megalodons, along with some other oceanic predators, have escaped from the threshold and threaten the lives of vacationers on a nearby resort island.
A mediocre script and constant action set pieces can’t sink Meg 2: The Trench from achieving empty calorie aquatic horror delight.
Spectacle after spectacle dominates, as Meg 2: The Trench finds more ways to fill time before the climactic shark confrontation. From the beginning, it is evident that Meg 2: The Trench feels the need to establish itself as a bigger and meaner version of the tale. Underwater research facilities, assassination plots, and additional prehistoric baddies all stand individually as exciting standalone set pieces to the convoluted plot that don’t quite add up in a satisfying way. Even the choice to have multiple megalodons feels odd considering how much less screentime the sharks end up occupying thanks to the additional antagonists and obstacles. In fact, their presence dilutes the terror that they should inspire as they seem much easier to dispatch than in the original film, making the fear seem inconsequential.
Nonexistent character development and serviceable performances make it difficult to emotionally connect with the narrative. No one expects a deep dive character study or truly riveting soliloquies in a movie that insists one can resist the pressure of the deep ocean by pushing all air out of your body, but there should be general standards. Varying shades of dull stereotypes is reflected throughout the cast including scarred leader, precocious child, wise cracking Black man, reckless millionaire, and evil rich woman. Sadly, the best development comes through in Montes, the bad guy with a chip on his shoulder for Jonas after being put away by him years ago. The cast elevate the material slightly thanks to goodwill and charm, but the sheer amount of people on screen and the lack of development makes it hard for anyone to truly shine.
The impossible happens in many horror and action films, but this shark sequel pushes logic in every conceivable way. In science fiction, there is often a need to suspend disbelief to propel the plot forward. This is typically fine when considering things that are explained but are otherwise plausible, even if the science behind it is shaky. Meg 2: The Trench seeks out as many opportunities to defy physics and biology at every turn. From risky escape measures to shark killing techniques, there’s a consistent element of silliness to the film. Thankfully, this doesn’t take too much out of the film in terms of its entertainment value.
Regardless of all the issues, Meg 2: The Trench is an impossibly fun shark action horror film that wears its brainlessness with pride. Breakneck action sequences distract from the shallow plot while offering plenty of fun and inventive ways for the cast to face off against the prehistoric predators and each other. Clear camerawork that highlights the horror and humor of the situation make for some light summer entertainment while careening audience members to the next bit of well-choreographed stunt work showoff. It’s shallow action horror carnage but it has enough humor and good will to brighten the mood of any casual filmgoer trying to escape the summer heat.
Meg 2: The Trench is a hard-to-hate summertime adventure horror that is deflated only by its reckless ambition. Its uneven storyline and commitment to the most bizarre explanations of science drag down the overall quality of the film. Capable direction under the supervision of Ben Wheatley, however, ensures that the ride to the bottom is a silly and fun one, nonetheless. Perhaps finding a more anchoring plot will help the inevitable third film feel more grounded so it can continue the legacy of the franchise delivering sharksploitation thrills.
Overall Score? 6/10