Starring: Jason Statham, BingBing Lee and Rainn Wilson
Directed by: John Turtletaub
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hr 53 mins
If you’ve learned anything about me over the years, you know that “Jaws” is my favorite film. That being said, every time a new shark themed film shows up (“Deep Blue Sea,” “Open Water,” “The Shallows,” etc) I have to put my blinders on and do my best not to compare the film to “Jaws.” However, when the film in question steals whole sequences from the film, I may bet a little testy.
We meet Jonas Taylor (Statham) as he and his rescue team are trying to save the crew of a submerged vessel. However, just as you think they’re all going to survive, they are attacked by “something,” causing Taylor to leave behind a couple teammates, who inevitably die. Fade to black and jump ahead a few years.
Welcome to the bottom of the ocean, inside the Mariana Trench. A bizarre philanthropist (Wilson) has financed an expedition to the trench with the purpose of trying to go deeper. The idea is that it’s so cold at the bottom of the ocean that maybe you’re not on the ocean’s floor. Maybe you’re just blocked. Crazy guy arrives at his sea platform, which is full of scientists and a cute Chinese family (older father, daughter and granddaughter). The mission is a success, but while down below their sub is attacked by “something.” Only one person can help them…someone whose life was changed by “something.” But what?
With a few good special effects shots and a cast that’s trying way too hard, “The Meg” is passable entertainment. A giant shark that can actually eat people whole is kind of cool, though the filmmakers can’t seem to decide on how big it is. When it’s out to sea it’s HUGE, knocking over boats and gobbling up people like cocktail peanuts. But when it comes close to shore, where hundreds of people are bathing, it easily swims by, not one person noticing the 60 foot monster that just passed by.
Director Turtletaub has directed four films since 2004, three of them starring Nicolas Cage, the master of over-emoting. He would have made a fine substitute to Statham, who has proven himself in other films. The slow parts between shark appearances start to add up, and the film feels every bit of its almost 2-hour run time.
To steal (and paraphrase) from Woody Allen in “Annie Hall,” a film is like a shark. It has to keep on moving or it will die. And what we’re dealing with here…is a dead shark.