The Pitch: Steven Spielberg has shared with the world many important lessons about life. Lesson one: Avoid bodies of water occupied by a large shark. Lesson two: Avoid any situation involving prehistoric creatures. Lesson three: For god’s sake, avoid both of those things! And yet sadly, for a reasonably sized percentage of the characters in Meg 2: The Trench, that advice goes unheeded.
Things begin with the return of Jason Statham as an eco-warrior/”green James Bond” still working with the Mana One research facility from the first film, while also occasionally taking down evil polluters of our magnificent oceans. (It’s important to have hobbies.) The danger’s a lot closer to home, though, when a planned dive down to the Trench goes awry — the Trench being an unexplored region of the ocean floor, the perfect place for giant sharks from the days of the dinosaurs to hang out and be chill.
Once Jason Statham and his compatriots (including his adopted tweenage daughter, having stowed away) find themselves trapped on the ocean floor, it’s a life-or-death struggle between humans, giant sharks, and even bigger threats from below the surface. Though the biggest threat, as per usual, is other humans — especially once the dangers of the Trench make it to the coastline…
Summertime, and the Movies Are Easy… There’s a temptation to judge the films of August by a different standard than others. It’s summer, after all, a time for icy drinks, whatever length of shorts you’re comfortable with, and going to the movies just because you don’t have central A/C and maybe you’ll get to see a giant shark eat some people.
On that score, Meg 2: The Trench absolutely delivers. It’s a little bizarre to see the name of Ben Wheatley, a director whose credits include the well-regarded 2016 dystopian thriller High-Rise, on this movie. (Jon Turteltaub directed the first installment.) However, while Wheatley doesn’t attempt to imbue any sort of visual flair on screen, he does have a solid understanding of what’s needed to make a genre picture like this work, hitting the necessary beats in a reliable way with plenty of humor involved.
Looking for sparks of genuine originality in Meg 2 is as foolish as asking Jason Statham to do an American accent; even the opening sequence indirectly recalls Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon’s underwater adventures in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and directly recalls Colin Trevorrow’s original opening for Jurassic World: Dominion. However, like Jason Statham, the movie knows its job, and delivers on exactly the level you’re hoping for.