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Meg 2: The Trench
Review by Rich Cline |
dir Ben Wheatley
prd Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Belle Avery
scr Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, Dean Georgaris
with Jason Statham, Wu Jing, Cliff Curtis, Sophia Cai, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Melissanthi Mahut, Page Kennedy, Skyler Samuels, Sienna Guillory, Kiran Sonia Sawar, Whoopie Van Raam, Felix Mayr
release US/UK 4.Aug.23
23/China Warners 1h56
Is it streaming?
Not content with continuing 2018's guilty pleasure The Meg, this film mashes-up prehistoric shark action with a Bond-style action thriller, complete with supervillains and an underwater lair. So the first half is mainly a battle for survival with added hand-to-hand and gun fights, while the second half offers the expected excitement of gigantic sea creatures attacking a fancy beach resort. In other words, it's a lot of fun.
At an oceanic institute in China, Jonas (Statham) is working with Jiuming (Wu), who claims to have trained a megalodon shark named Haiqi in captivity. Then she escapes, just as Jonas and team head to a sea lab for an experimental voyage into a deep trench. And they're stranded there after discovering an illicit underwater mining operation down there, with evil henchman Montes (Peris-Mencheta) determined to kill them. After battling for survival, they return to the surface, just as Haiqi arrives with two massive pals, plus a herd of scrappy dino-crocs and a monumental octopus.
Shifting back and forth between gritty tension and over-the-top insanity, director Wheatley adds playful touches to the dual-strand premise, accompanied by huge sharks that can swallow large groups of hapless holidaymakers or gun-toting mercenaries in a single gulp. The narrative charges forward, taking breaks here and there to add salient details to the relationships between the characters, which helps increase the stakes. Thankfully, instead of emotional schmaltz, there are blasts of comical relief from various sides, piled on top of the general absurdity.
Statham does his thing effortlessly, playing up the machismo while adding some wryly witty subtext, all while never putting his tongue in his cheek. His action beats are flat-out insane, especially in the show-stopping set-piece in which he leaps onto a jet-ski and tangos with a megalodon or three. He's also likeable in more emotive moments with Cai, as Jiuming's 14-year-old niece, who stows away into the craziness. Wu adds terrific physicality as the boundlessly energetic Jiuming, while Curtis and Kennedy deliver a few amusing laughs.
Even if the adventures are played with a straight face, nothing here is designed to be taken seriously, so anyone looking for plot coherence might be best advised to stay away. But those seeking cinematic escapism will enjoy the gleefully excessive action choreography as well as the corny thriller storyline and simplistic character melodrama. In other words, it does pretty much what you expect from a movie like this, but even bigger and splashier.
R E A D E R R E V I E W SStill waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2023 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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