How much of a bite does “Meg 2: The Trench” really have?
TOP 5 THINGS ABOUT “MEG 2: THE TRENCH”
5. A Meg
Much like its 2018 predecessor, “The Meg,“ “Meg 2” has a Meg in it.
The first film was a gargantuan late-summer hit at the box office domestically and internationally, but it was genuinely awful. Its heinous editing and lackluster filmmaking on every front made for a repulsive cinematic work that, worst of all, was content being obscenely dumb but could not seem to find any sense of joy or fun within that ignorance. Despite having acclaimed director Ben Wheatley take over the directing reins here, Meg 2 suffers from these same issues.
4. Two Megs…?
Much like its 2018 predecessor, “The Meg,” “Meg 2” has two Megs in it.
The big twist of the first Meg was that there were actually two Megs. Meg 2 ups the ante by bringing in multiple Megs and various other creatures from ‘the trench.’ Sadly, none of this is anywhere near as inventive or fun as one might hope. There’s the Megs, a big octopus, and some velociraptor-esque iguanas, and that’s about it.
3. The Biggest Meg Anyone Has Ever Seen
There’s a fantastic line we get early on in “Meg 2″ by none other than Jason Statham (it’s also in the trailer if you’d like to treat yourself to it with a smaller dosage of Meg-related boredom). When fed the line, “That’s the biggest Meg I’ve ever seen,” Statham responds, “That’s the biggest Meg anyone has ever seen.”
Statham utters this with gravitas and bold-faced posturing, as though his character hasn’t merely encountered a few Megs that can be counted on one hand. Wheatley does manage a neat shot of an ‘alpha’ Meg swimming past one of the smaller ones to establish some scale initially, but as the film progresses, it becomes exceedingly challenging to discern which Meg characters are interacting with at any given moment. These factors contribute to rendering the aforementioned line somewhat comical, yet it’s Statham’s unwavering commitment to the role that truly lifts it.
2. Jason Statham’s Smile
Speaking of Statham, he appears to thoroughly enjoy himself in this role, which genuinely brings me joy.
The actor renowned for one of Hollywood’s most recognizable scowls gets the opportunity to portray a pleasant individual, relishing his time as a ‘Green James Bond.’ He takes on the role of protecting his family and dispatching Megs using javelins and helicopter blades, and I find that quite heartening.
1. Water-Logged Sinuses
Long after the remainder of “Meg 2: The Trench” has faded from my memory like inscriptions etched on a sandy shoreline before the tide’s arrival, I will distinctly recall the scene where the entire movie abruptly halts. Multiple characters take the stage, aiming to elucidate to the audience that it’s surprisingly permissible for Jason Statham to emerge from a deep underwater base, as long as water infiltrates his sinuses beforehand.
Setting aside considerations of scientific accuracy or inaccuracy, this scene stands as the film’s most amusing moment. Though it probably occupies a mere couple of minutes in runtime, its perception stretches to about tenfold that duration. Wheatley’s camera shifts focus, zeroing in on Statham’s water-filled nostrils with an intended dramatic push-in, ostensibly meant to generate tension. Meanwhile, characters continue their ADR dialogue concerning how ‘fish don’t wear metal suits this deep, and they don’t get crushed!’ The evident truth is that this narrative juncture posed challenges in test screenings. Instead of revising it, the filmmakers intensified their commitment to it, extensively re-recording off-screen dialogue to inundate the audience with ‘well, actually’ exposition. This choice exacts a toll on any semblance of momentum or tension that Meg 2 might have endeavored to cultivate. To borrow phrasing from yet another character in the film, it generates a palpable ‘cognitive dissonance.’
To paraphrase a character early on in the interminable runtime of Meg 2: The Trench, “Man’s only limitation is his own imagination.” This is an unbelievably funny line to include in a movie like Meg 2, a vapid, multi-corporation joint project that plays much more like the inevitable sum total of a spreadsheet than it does like any kind of artistic work.
Meg 2: The Trench is being met with much harsher criticism from audiences and critics alike than the first Meg was, which is intriguing. Because if we’re being honest, Meg 2 is at least roughly of the same quality, if not slightly better than its predecessor. That’s not a high bar to clear, nor does it make Meg 2 good, but it begs the question: has Meg changed, or have audiences? I’d like to believe the latter: this kind of corporate-fueled, sterilized ticking of boxes masquerading as a blockbuster and getting by on flashing lights, fast movement, and quips alone will soon be just as extinct as the Megalodon itself.
It feels like there could have been something here. Statham is clearly game for a good, fun, dumb-time blockbuster. Ben Wheatley’s direction does have a few exceedingly brief moments where visual flourishes, distinct choices, or recurring motifs seem interesting. But everything about Meg 2: The Trench is so relentlessly devoid of any sense of creativity or imagination. Like fellow Statham franchise, the Fast & Furious, these Meg films have some of the silliest, most ridiculous events unfolding within them, but the filmmaking and tone of the films are so painfully dull and monotonous that even its most insanity-fueled beats just wash over the audience like white noise.
Instead, Meg 2 is a truly awfully edited film, with a soundtrack designed to placate rather than excite, and with a cast of characters so one-dimensional that they might as well be cardboard cutouts. It fails on virtually every level, resorting to just kind of becoming a hodge-podge of paper-thin references to other films in similar subgenres: Jaws 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Jurassic Park: The Lost World, The Abyss, Alien, Jurassic World, Piranha 3D, and even Speed 2: Cruise Control all get beats cribbed directly from them and jammed into this exceedingly lackluster script.