Director: Ben Wheatley
Starring: Jason Statham, Wu Jing, Sophia Cai, Page Kennedy, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Skyler Samuels, Sienna Guillory and Cliff Curtis
Runtime: 1 hr 56 mins
Rating: PG13 (Intense Sequences)
Released By: Warner Bros
Opening Day: 3 August 2023
Synopsis: Back for seconds! “Meg 2: The Trench” is the summer’s highly anticipated next chapter of the global blockbuster that returns to the big screen with Jason Statham once again headlining and now partnered with Wu Jing, star of five of the ten highest-grossing films in China. Our unstoppable heroes battle a frenzy of ferocious Megs, led by the biggest Meg ever, along with new, never-before-seen creatures in a monstrously-sized action thriller. Featuring jaw-dropping effects, edge-of-your-seat thrills and high-octane battles, “Meg 2: The Trench” is a summer joyride at its combustible best!
A movie about a group of scientists fighting a 75-foot-long megalodon shark probably wasn’t developed with the intention of getting rave reviews from critics, but if it delivers thrills and spills for the viewers, why not?
Better still, if it makes a splash at the box office, there is a reason for the movie to exist. Back in 2018, The Meg starring Jason Statham and Li Bingbing. Made with a budget of USD 130 to 178 million, the movie earned USD 530.2 million at the box office. Who cares if the movie directed by Jon Turteltaub garnered mixed reviews? Bring on a sequel!
And so, five years later, we have a second movie in the franchise. What other story can be told for a shark movie? Well, there isn’t one – and we weren’t expecting a sophisticated plot to begin with. Directed by Ben Wheatley from a screenplay by Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, and Dean Georgaris, it is surprising to know that the movie is actually based on a 1999 science fiction horror novel The Trench by Steve Alten.
Statham returns as Jonas Taylor, a diver who specialises in deep sea search and rescue. Of course, we know him as the guy who fought a megalodon shark. Together with his crew and some other new characters, the good guys have to prevent the bad guys from doing some bad deeds, and also fight off not one, but many megalodon sharks plus other carnivorous creatures (simply because the sequel can afford more CGI shots). Along the way, some members of the ensemble cast will get eaten up. Needless to say, when the creatures wreak havoc on a human infested resort, countless people will become shark food.
Like the first movie, this 116 minute sequel is a Chinese co production, which is why action superstar Wu Jing shows up as Zhang Jiuming, who is the brother of Li Bingbing’s deceased character. Besides getting to pull some punches against the baddies, he gets to combat the CGI creatures with a believable intensity.
Because of the source of financing dollars, audiences also get to know how protecting the ocean is crucial for China and all of mankind, and hear Mandarin dialogues from Wu and Sophia Cai, who Zhang Meiying, Jonas’ stepdaughter. Other returning characters include Cliff Curtis’ James "Mac" Mackreides (an operations manager) and Page Kennedy’s DJ (an engineer). The two have some fun scenes together fighting off bad guys on a vessel.
The first half of the movie takes place in the titular trench, and we get the feeling that the filmmakers are trying to use the rather dull scenes to set up something that’s going to be insanely jaw dropping. Unfortunately, that is not the case and what we got instead are characters in exosuits trekking carefully in the depths of the ocean. Nothing terribly exciting happens, although there are fatalities.
What viewers want are probably monster sharks chomping on terrified humans, and we only get that when the action shifts to a nonsensically named location called Fun Island. There, you will get what you came for – ridiculously fun sequences where humans fleeing the shark infested waters, and Statham putting a stop (with the help of Wu and Curtis) to the blood thirsty monsters.
(You'll have to get past the first murky hour before being treated to a series of ridiculously fun sequences where monsters eat humans while Jason Statham and Wu Jing fight megalodon sharks)
Review by John Li