Is it a creature feature? Is it Jaws mashed up with Jurassic Park? Is it a satire? Meg 2 is all of these, but not much more.
Action star Jason Statham is back in the scuba suit as diver, marine biologist and eco-warrior Jonas Taylor after making an appearance in the 2018 film The Meg which was based on a 1997 novel Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror. In the just-released sequel, Taylor, his team of deep sea explorers have to contend with not one, but a group of megalodons—large, big-toothed prehistoric species akin to but much larger than sharks.
Joining Statham in the drivers’ seat this time is Chinese action star Wu Jing as Jiuming Zhang, the moneybags behind an oceanography research facility and uncle to 14-year-old Meiying (Shuya Sophia Cai). Actors Cliff Curtis and Page Kennedy reprise their roles as Mac and DJ respectively.
Meg 2: The Trench begins a few years after The Meg. A dive team exploring seemingly uncharted depths of the ocean comes under attack from not just one, but many megs, and also from an illegal mining operation. But like every plot or message in this film, director Ben Wheatley leaves the thread dangling. The message of the environment and protecting natural resources sounds good till the explorers start blowing things up and shooting at things underwater or until fancy holiday makers must be rescued from an imminent meg attack.
If one is expecting the kind of stomach-turning tension we saw in Jaws or the imagined terror of a dinosaur attack captured in Jurassic Park, then don’t hold you breath. Those who have seen The Meg would be familiar with the tenor of these films—more silly than scary. Wheatley doesn’t put in even one jump scare. The only moment of anxiety is watching a team of stranded explorers trying to make their way across the ocean floor on foot, while combatting various primordial creatures and sea life. Things go from bad to worse when the megs and a giant octopus breach the trench, making their way to the surface, attacking blissful vacationers. Things might have felt more perilous with more finessed CGI.
It’s then mayhem at the seaside resort which is under attack from megs, octopi, some other amphibious mane-eating species plus there are gun-toting mercenaries, homemade bombs and harpoons and a partially domesticated meg on the loose. I couldn’t help but imagine what would transpire if the guests of The White Lotus had to confront a meg, dinosaur and Statham onslaught.
There is clearly an attempt to balance both producers—America and China—with this sequel, pandering to a play-safe commercial design. In doing so, the 116-minute long sci-fi thriller is neither thrilling enough nor is it revelling in irreverence. You might wonder if this wasn’t veering toward a camp, B-grade creature feature when watching the ‘evil’ women behind the mining operation who are at least noticeable for being over the top, as compared to Sergio Peris-Mencheta’s bland bad guy, Montes. There are few good gags and fun banter between the main cast, but not enough sparring and action to justify Statham and Wu Jing as the headliners.