“The Meg” of Jason Statham, that is the greatest movie … for about three minutes

Which is why it is disappointing to report that the simple answer never quite arrives the way you’d hope or expect in The Meg.

This should have been an open goal. Look at the pitch again: Jason Statham fighting a giant shark.

That seems like an open goal, but the only person who seems to be aware of that fact is Jason Statham himself. Who is clearly having a ball here.

Everyone else – from the supporting cast, to the screenwriter, to the director – can’t seem to decide if they’re making Jaws (deadly serious horror movie). Or if they’re making Deep Blue Sea (tongue-in-cheek trashy entertainment).

That probably comes down to the fact that the movie cost $150 million to produce, before a single poster was designed, or a single trailer was posted. And there is a limit to the kind of movie you can make with that kind of price-tag.

For one, the potential audience needs to be as wide as possible.

Which means allowing teenagers and families in to see it, which means the violence and profanity levels need to be scaled back. And when you’re making a movie about a giant, prehistoric shark, violence and profanity are exactly what you need. You need someone to be screaming “FUCK ME, THAT IS A GIANT FUCKING SHARK!“. As it bites someone in half and their guts go all over the place.

Instead, most of the violence is off-screen, or sudden and entirely blood-free, as the shark’s mouth is so big that it has a tendency to swallow people whole with a single bite being taken.

And the extent of the profanity, to our memory, is Statham using the word “Bastard” once. Come on, guys – a 12a cert entitles you to one “fuck“, and this is a big fucking shark!

Good old Jason Statham, he really does know how to play a wise cracking, no nonsense bad ass!

And once again, that role is brought to the fore in The Meg. Thankfully Jason’s previous experience as a diver (Tom Daley style, not Neymar) puts him in a perfect position to go toe-to-tooth with a true monster of the deep: Megalodon.

Now some of the science in this film checks out… there are things such as chemoclines, where two differing bodies of water are kept separate by their own specific chemistry. However, while these barriers can pose a serious challenge to small creatures, which must carefully balance all their internal physiology and so can’t leap from one environmental extreme to another, something like a Megalodon would be happy to bust through without a second thought.

Next we have the issue of size, and once again, it seems bigger is better in The Meg.

cannot get my head around how big this CGI shark is meant to be, but our understanding of the real Meg is that it likely averaged around 10m in length, about the same size as a Basking Shark. Some reports put Megalodon up at 16m or more, making it comparable to the Whale Shark, but it certainly did not reach the cruise liner sized beast seen here.

Finally, we have the issue which hampers all the massive shark fantasies, and that is… they are extinct. Megalodon disappeared around 2million years ago due to climate change and competition for prey. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see one myself, but the only place that is happening is in The Meg 2: We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Ocean.

There’s a lot I’m willing to forgive about a movie involving Jason Statham battling a giant shark.

If that movie draws from the well of easy plot fixes, that’s O.K. Those little cheats and elisions will, after all, eventually lead to Jason Statham—Britain’s answer to us showing them Vin Diesel and saying, “Who ya got?”—fighting a shark. If some supporting characters in this epic tale of man vs. marine marauder still have the tags from the stock-character store hanging off them, that’s no bother; Jason Statham’s still gonna punch that fish.

What I’m saying is that I went into The Meg (opening August 10), the new movie in which Statham squares off against a prehistoric behemoth about 10 times the size of Jaws from Jaws, with a great, generous capacity. I wanted to love Jon Turteltaub’s movie as I desperately wish to love all things these days, or at least anything that seems kindly aimed at amusing us as skies darken and we tilt into ruin.

The Meg is hip to some of its silly appeal.

The marketing campaign has fun with wordplay (“Opening wide,” the posters read); the movie itself offers up some playful winks meant to reassure us, in the Sharknado vein, that it’s in on the joke.

Only most of those winks are unearned. The Meg is bad, but only rarely in the fun way. Maybe it would be better if it was trashier, like one of those garish (and, frankly, unwatchable) Syfy gag movies. Or perhaps it should be more elevated, sleeker and sexier in all its seabound scares. As is, though, the movie exists in some uncomfortable expanse of lifeless ocean in between, dumb enough to be annoying, but not enough (or in the right way) to be a riot.

INFO:

Rating: PG-13 (for action/peril, bloody images and some language)
Genre: Action & Adventure, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub
Stars: Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson
Written By: Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber
In Theaters: Aug 10, 2018 Wide
On Disc/Streaming: Nov 13, 2018
Runtime: 114 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures

tt stern-enzi
There’s some corniness that’s apart of this film, there are some cheesy lines, but Statham sells it all.

Oliver Jones
Asks little more of you than to strap in, put away your phone and enjoy watching a freakishly huge prehistoric eating machine terrorize some scientists before it turns its appetite to a beach full of frolickers on floaties.

Matthew Norman
The one genuine shock is that it takes Statham as long as 44 minutes to remove his shirt and flash his pecs.

Katie Walsh
The film delivers on that silly-stupid-summer-fun promise, while also exceeding expectations in terms of action and set-pieces

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