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‘Meg 2: The Trench’ Review: Tedious Sequel Is Missing Original’s Bite And Gets Lost At Sea

After the 2018 Jason Statham-starring sci-fi action/horror extravaganza The Meg made an imposing global haul of roughly $530 million ($385 million of that from outside the U.S.), it became instantly inevitable that more giant deep-sea monsters would quickly be hatched to populate a sequel. It follows that some of these overgrown aquatic freaks might be very hungry, or perhaps just anti-social and angry that their population is being slightly decreased. Fortunately, Statham is there when he’s most needed, taking on countless creatures whose deep-water habitat is being invaded, perhaps for the first time since the beginning of time. Little wonder they’re upset.

At first, everything about Meg 2: The Trench appears bigger and stronger, now that it’s apparent that the producers look to have a major money-making franchise on their hands. Unfortunately, these same producers, along with their collaborators, have for some reason stinted in the creation of any worthy supporting players to fill out the cast and seem uninterested in character building or even finding distinctive young actors to fill out the crew.

The only major returnee is Statham, playing Jonas Taylor, a paleologist who’s been studying the megalodon, an extinct species going way, way back. But in these parts you never know what you might come across, and much of the allure of these Meg films lies in discovering what you might find down in the deepest depths the seas.

Unfortunately, what Jonas finds in the most obscure and least known cracks and crevices are bad guys, which quickly makes Meg 2 seem far more conventional than it needs to be. The filmmakers — Ben Wheatley directs a script from returning writers Jon & Erich Hoeber and Dean Georgaris — evidently felt the pressure to inject jacked-up violence into the action here just for the sake of it on what feels like a clockwork basis. This immediately brands the film as something made according to an age-old recipe rather than a challenge to stimulate an effort to come up with something fresh and novel.

Meg 2 rather wears out its welcome very early on as it begins feeling like a tedious, repetitive joke. When the small crew manages to prevail in a tense violent situation, you hope that some twists and turns lie ahead for the team, which is a mix of men and women including one played by Chinese mega-star Wu Jing. But just after their early victory, anything resembling plausible plotting, comprehensible motivation, clever teamwork and simple good sense entirely vanishes. So repetitive, uninspired and just plain implausible are the events that follow that it actually feels like the writers went out for lunch and never came back.

At several points along the way you could bang your hand to your forehead in reaction to how random and non-transporting the action is, even when there’s a great deal of it. Switching mental channels, you could think about Jackie Chan and what he might have done under the types of desperate circumstances that imperil the protagonists here.

Before too long, in fact, the film becomes so implausibly ridiculous that it feels like a parody of a highly cranked action film and then actually becomes one, so absurd and self-consciously consumed is it in its quest for unparalleled action. Statham’s Jonas navigates the water in such extreme ways that eventually you can only laugh, as you often have no what he’s so desperately pursuing or who’s doing what to whom and why. After you’ve watched Statham zoom across the seas enough times to satisfy your taste for jeopardy and speed, all you can do is capitulate to the foolishness and laugh — at it, with it or both.

Title: Meg 2: The Trench
Distributor: Warner Bros
Release date: August 4, 2023
Director: Ben Wheatley
Screenwriters: Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber and Dean Georgaris
Cast: Jason Statham, Wu Jing, Sophia Cai, Page Kennedy, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Skyler Samuels, Cliff Curtis
Rating: PG-13
Running time: 1 hr 56 min

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