I love a good shark movie.
Of course Jaws traumatized me as a kid (no surprise there), but I had a ball watching Deep Blue Sea at the movies in 1999, and I was recently blown away by The Shallows and its captivating narrative. As you can imagine, my expectations were sky high for The Meg (did you see its brilliant marketing campaign?). Thankfully, it doesn’t disappoint!
A beast of an experience
You should know that The Meg is a ridiculous extravaganza right from the start. Whereas something like The Shallows employed a more psychological survivalist approach, this Jason Statham vehicle is an all-out monster flick. There’s nothing remotely realistic here, and that’s not a bad thing. The monster at the center of the story is the “Megalodon” – a supposedly extinct beast that’s bigger than any sea creature the world has ever known. That means that all the film’s action set-pieces are packed with unbelievable moments, and they’re a whole lot of fun right till the very end. For a blockbuster that’s almost two hours long, that’s quite impressive!
Production values with a bite
I’m pleased to report that the CGI employed to bring the title beast to life are fantastic. A lot of times in monster movies, cheap effects have a habit of shattering the illusion and taking you right out of the film. That never happens here; this is an expensive flick and it shows. Moreover, there are quite a few jump scares sprinkled throughout the film that ensure you’re on the edge of your seat the whole way through. Director Jon Turtletaub recognizes that the most terrifying moments are the quiet instances before the beast attacks, and the film milks the heck out of them.
Beast vs beast
It must be said that Jason Statham is predictably badass as our protagonist. In fact, he threatens to outshine the beast with his special brand of charisma. He doesn’t have the most original dialogue, but much much like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, he doesn’t need any since he’s so completely committed to the action. He might not be jumping out of planes, but I certainly didn’t catch any stunt doubles.
It also helps that he’s got a fine supporting cast – both Li Bingbing and Ruby Rose are very likable in their respective roles, while ten-year old Shuya Cai is a hilarious standout. If The Meg ends up being a success and kicks off a franchise like Statham hopes, I’m definitely on-board.
Solid thrills and a terrific central performance by Statham makes this a crazy fun ride at the movies.