MEG 2: THE TRENCH Review: The Megalodons Are Back, And They Brought Friends

Editor, U.S. ; Dallas, Texas (@HatefulJosh)
MEG 2: THE TRENCH Review: The Megalodons Are Back, And They Brought Friends

Just when you thought it was safe to go 25,000 meters below the water… again.

Five years ago, almost to the day, the world was blessed with the pretty good-est giant shark movie of the 21st century in Jon Turteltaub’s The Meg. That film saw Jason Statham and his crew battling a prehistoric monster that had escaped its deep undersea home through explosions caused directly by human hubris. They managed to put it down with minimal-ish casualties, and that should’ve been the end of the story. However, when a film makes over half a billion dollars at the global box office, a sequel will find a way to bring the seemingly dead back to life.

This time around, indie genre superstar Ben Wheatley (Kill List, A Field in England, Free Fire) takes the reins as director, which means we’re going to something really special right? Well, yes and no.

Meg 2: The Trench joins Statham, who has miraculously transformed from an expert deep sea rescue diver into a martial arts whiz cum parkour pro eco-vigilante, and that’s just one of the film’s ridiculous leaps. Honestly, there’s so much happening in this plot that it is almost impossible to even give the broadest of strokes, but I’ll try.  

They caught a megalodon, put it in a research facility. They learned nothing from their previous mistakes and go back to the deepest unexplored part of the ocean and things go haywire. More megalodons escape, head back toward a different party beach than the one they used as a buffet in the first film, Statham and company chase them down. This time there are more prehistoric monsters, some very cool, some less cool, but all get their licks in. It all feels very familiar, but with a few decent upgrades for anyone ready and willing to take the ride.

There are a lot of elements of Meg 2 that feel pretty lazy, I’m not going to lie. The basic plot line is essentially identical to the first film, including several surprise reveals that occur in both films. A lot of the film finds the audience wondering why the characters are doing the exact same things that got them in trouble the first time around. No answer is given beyond greed, which was the exact same reason things went pear-shaped in the first film. Then there’s the Ben Wheatley of it all.

Bringing Wheatley on as the director was a choice that had a lot of people really excited. How was this filmmaker who’d become known for challenging genre experiments going to tackle this behemoth of a franchise? The answer, unfortunately, is that his work is all but invisible. There is not a frame of Meg 2 that shows any sign of the Wheatley we’d expect. It’s certainly a missed opportunity to make the film more interesting, but “interesting” isn’t what sells tickets, big action does, so he dials up the mayhem and stays out of its way.

Statham is joined by returning cast Sophia Cai as the young Meiying, Cliff Curtis as Mac, and Page Kennedy as DJ, three of the only survivors of the first tragedy. Augmenting the crew this time around making his big Hollywood debut is Chinese superstar Wu Jing (Sha Po Lang, Wolf Warrior 2, The Wandering Earth) as well-intentioned industrialist turned environmentalist Zhang Jiuming, Meiying’s uncle. Wu Jing turns in a performance that is probably too good for the film its in, but I was a bit disappointed that he didn’t really get an opportunity to show off his action chops apart from a lot of running. Statham’s Jonas, on the other hand, appears to have a lot more martial arts training than would be required of a deep-sea rescue expert. But, as incongruous and illogical as it is, I’m here for it.

The time and energy not spent on crafting a new story with new beats for Meg 2 was obviously diverted into creating bigger action and set pieces, and this is where the big dumb movie fan in me really perked up. Not only do we get three megs right off the bat, they are joined by a cadre of vicious dinosaurs the size of big doggies and one hell of a giant octopus (that sadly doesn’t get the hero shot it deserves and is mostly featured in bits and pieces, but hey! Giant octopus!). The additional beasties provide the film’s final act with numerous opportunities for strong PG-13 levels of violence, and I will admit, that’s all I really wanted.

There is no doubt that the level and volume of shark/dino/octopus action outpaces the first film by a healthy margin, however, the middle of the film slows down to a crawl when it introduces a mysterious, malevolent villain at the bottom of the sea that feels more like padding than plot. Meg 2: The Trench is about forty minutes too long, there’s nothing here that justifies the two-hour run time, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t enjoy most of it for its abject stupidity and commitment to the go-big-or-go-home ethos.

A lot of how an audience is going to feel about Meg 2: The Trench will depend on two things, how they felt about the first film, and how they feel about seeing the first film AGAIN, but bigger. The Meg, for its massive box office five years ago, opened to decidedly middling reviews, many of which maligned the film’s decision to go PG-13 by keeping the sharktastic massacres relatively bloodless. That issue remains present, but at the budget level they are working on, it’s to be expected. That’s not an excuse, but it is an explanation. That being said, I knew what I was getting into and for me there was enough of the good stuff to overcome the weaknesses and I really enjoyed myself.

Meg 2: The Trench doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but if giant sea monster mayhem is what you’re looking for, it’s got you covered.

Meg 2: The Trench

  • Ben Wheatley
  • Jon Hoeber
  • Erich Hoeber
  • Dean Georgaris
  • Jason Statham
  • Jing Wu
  • Sienna Guillory
Screen Anarchy logo
Do you feel this content is inappropriate or infringes upon your rights? Click here to report it, or see our DMCA policy.
Ben WheatleyJon HoeberErich HoeberDean GeorgarisJason StathamJing WuSienna GuilloryActionAdventureHorror

Around the Internet