Review: The Meg

Score: B

Director: Jon Turteltaub

Cast: Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Ruby Rose, Rainn Wilson

Running Time: 113 Minutes

Rated: PG-13

When this summer began, I did not expect to like the giant shark movie more than the giant dinosaur movie, but here we are. The Meg succeeds because it knows exactly what it is and doesn't try to be more than that. If that sounds like a low bar, it's not exactly. This is leagues better than the Sharknado franchise, and not just because this has a bigger budget, better actors and decent writing. It's exactly as absurd as it needs to be without going too far outside the realm of the possible.

Jason Statham plays Jonas, a rescue diver called out of retirement to save an expedition crew trapped at the bottom of the ocean after their ship was attacked by... something. In a rare occurrence, he's called on for his intelligence and not just his brawn. After saving the group, they learn they've unleashed a megalodon, which typically stayed closer to the ocean floor. But now it's out and hungry for blood.

And so, like Jaws or any other big fish movie, the shark is hunting everything, not just other marine life to feed. Of course this isn't how things go in real life. Sharks are dangerous, but rarely come near humans, let alone attack them.

But The Meg also works because it's got a truly international cast, in a way that doesn't feel mandated by its U.S.-Chinese co-production status. This is a good band of professionals movie, each with their own personality quirks. But their chemistry doesn't mean they should all be out on a smaller boat where they're more likely to get eaten. That's just a ploy for a higher body count, which the movie doesn't really need.

It also doesn't need Statham to be haunted by the people he couldn't save on his previous rescue mission, or at least the idea that his character is cowardly. It's simply not believable. It's an extra, unnecessary character beat. The movie is better off when it's paying tribute to Jaws, The Abyss and even Finding Nemo.

The Meg is big, dumb summer fun in a season that's been filled with big movies and dumb movies, but this one does big and dumb properly.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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