In 2015 I took my one and only trip to the Toronto International Film Festival. At the festival I had my first encounter with a Ben Wheatley film. The guy was coming off a couple well-reviewed indie features I hadn't seen, but was premiering his Tom Hiddleston-fronted High-Rise at the festival that year. I remember coming out of that experience bored and thinking the film felt like something made with ideas loftier than its writer could convey and for an audience where such allegories were overlooked anyway. It wanted to be something it wasn't, in short, but come to find out eight years and five Ben Wheatley films later that it wanted to be something it couldn't; at least not with Wheatley at the helm. I don't like to straight dump on people or wholly place the shortcomings of a film on the shoulders of one person, but there was no reason to believe Meg 2: The Trench was going to be good, especially with Wheatley directing. 

In all honestly, Meg 2 isn't as bad as I feared and certainly isn't as bad as the tomatometer would lead you to believe, but it isn't the kind of so bad it's good or fun either. Opening with a prehistoric prologue followed by a needle drop of Queen and Bowie's "Under Pressure" I thought we might be headed in the right direction, but while we're immediately given shark bites and Jason Statham action the three man screenplay then slows to plot out the plot no one really cares about. Li Bingbing's character is immediately noted as having died two years ago, her daughter (Shuya Sophia Cai) is now being co-parented by Statham's Jonas and the girl's Uncle (Jing Wu) who is some type of scientist himself working for an environmental corporation that may or may not be evil (definitely is) that keeps a baby meg in an enclosed area for "research purposes".

Anyone who has seen a single piece of entertainment can figure out where this is going, but for one stupid reason or another the movie then decides to take our core characters down to the titular trench in order to try and map the unknown. Admittedly, the deep darkness of the ocean is a good idea for jump scares and forcing the characters to utilize anything other than guns to defend themselves, but it's so visually bland that there is a solid twenty minutes of this alleged $185 million production where it feels like you're watching a black screen with Statham grunts looped over the top of it. Experimental! Worse, that aforementioned evil corporation somehow built a whole base 25,000 feet underwater on the ocean floor (though more absurdities of this nature would have been appreciated) making the movie more about man versus man rather than man versus fish. There was a point in this exploration of the trench that I was hoping they'd go full Indiana Jones and have Statham and co. discover a lost civilization of sophisticated megalodons, but alas...I guess they're saving that for Meg 3: Won't You Be My Neighbor? 

Jason Statham's Jonas Taylor again encounters multiple threats at the depths of the ocean.
© 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and RatPac-Dune Entertainment LLC

Fortunately (or unfortunately), this sequel will satisfy more of your average movie-goers than it won't. No, we don't get to what we pay for until the final half hour of this two hour movie that should have been half an hour shorter in the first place, but it's hard to argue people don't get what they pay for in that climactic sequence. As someone who goes to the movies each week and hopes/expects a little more though, the Shark on Statham action never fully or properly utilizes the scale of the megs and the fact the shark is completely CGI was never not at the forefront of my mind. So little tension. There's a few solid comedic bits throughout, most due to Page Kennedy doing his best Tyrese impression, but apart from the broad comedy we get an antagonist who wears an old lady vest, a terrible unknown actress as the woman who runs the evil corporation who definitely should have been a bigger, Jodie Foster-esque name as well as Wheatley throwing in the Spike Lee shot for good measure (insert Tom DeLonge GIF). So, while I wouldn't classify this as bad as it's not not entertaining, it is pretty standard and that's the last thing you want your Jason Statham fights a prehistoric shark movie to be.

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