Okay, let’s lay our cards on the table right off the bat; it’s a movie about a prehistoric shark and Jason Statham’s attempts to kill it, we’re not here for a film that’s going to clean up at next year’s Oscars. Between Deep Blue Sea, Sharktopus, Sharknado (and its multitude of sequels), Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (and its multitude of sequels), Shark Exorcist (that one is a real thing, people, seek it out) and many, many other similar action movies – and apologies if I didn’t list your favourite one – a premise of man vs shark is not a new one, nor is it easy to build excitement for another one. This time around, however, it’s not a low-budget straight-to-DVD offering starring your favourite over-the-hill 80’s actors or pop stars, bona fide Hollywood action hero Jason Statham is here to head up the team of good guys battling against the monster of the sea. Boasting a budget of $150 million and a substantial amount of worldwide marketing, The Meg will attempt to push past the cornucopia of shark movies and establish it as the bee’s knees, the dog’s… well, you know…
The shark’s fin, if you will.
• Director: Jon Turtelaub
• Exhibition: 2D
• Rating: 12A
• Run Time: 113 Minutes
Following a brisk prologue introducing us, though smartly not showing, to the movie’s titular water-based monster, we start meeting the star’s main cast, and it isn’t long before we’re in the water and off the races. To the movie’s credit, it doesn’t waste much of its 113 minutes on exposition and character-building; at the end of the day, we know what we’re letting ourselves in for her, the shark is the main event and any humans are either going to be food or still standing by the end, if you’re looking for deep emotion and finding out back stories and life tales, you’re in the wrong place. Statham’s Jonas Taylor has his history hastily explained in the opening prologue and anything else, with both him and everyone else, is picked up along the way.
Once Meg makes her visual debut, and a brief explanation of who she is and where/when she came from is given, things are off and running and don’t really let up. Director Jon Turteltaub’s decision to keep things moving and minimise the human element, to an extent, certainly helps the movie as it never feels in danger of becoming boring. Time isn’t wasted on shark attack, then nothing for an age while the characters decide what to do next, it feels like everything happens hastily and almost concurrently at times. With a genre like this, which breeds predictability and can easily lead to the film becoming a chore, it’s a relief. Don’t get me wrong, the outcome – no spoilers here – may not be in much doubt, and no real attempt is made to fool you otherwise, but it does a good job of keeping your attention as it chugs along.
Visually, Meg also delivers, with the budget clearly enabling it to stand head and shoulders above the similar competition with as realistic-looking effects as you are going to get in a movie about a 75-foot prehistoric shark. The more intense, close-up scenes look good, and to its credit at no point are you taken out of the movie due to visual effects issues. Again, no mean feat for a production about a massive shark.
I realise I keep going back to the fact that it’s a movie about a big shark that comes from the dinosaur era (a fact not mentioned in the movie, but it’s established as fact in the original book), but let’s be honest here, there is only so much you can say when it is a film in which Jason Statham battles a 75-foot shark from the prehistoric era. You are best served coming into this film expecting it for what it is; a summer blockbuster that is the quintessential definition of a popcorn movie. It’s dumb, full of action but with a cast that holds things together, a star who doesn’t have to step out of second gear but still does what he needs to, but is never boring. Throw in the occasional scare – in the loosest sense of the word – and, while there are better movies out there, you have an easy near two-hour trip that you likely won’t regret.
Tags: Apelles Entertainment, Cliff Curtis, Di Bonaventura Pictures, Flagship Entertainment, Gravity Pictures, Jason Statham, Jon Turteltaub, Li Bingbing, Maeday Productions, Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, The Meg, Warner Bros. Pictures, Winston Chao