There was a ton of hype and speculation leading up to the release of The Meg. A lot of which seemed to come from the fact that no one really knew what to expect from this movie. Was it going to be the next great “shark” movie? Was it going to be campy and kinda dumb? Was Jason Statham going to go one on one with a megalodon? Turns out the answer to all of these questions is more or less “Yes.”
I did something that I rarely do anymore and saw The Meg in 3D. I usually opt to avoid 3D screenings for a few of reasons. I have never been all that interested in 3D, it usually looks terrible and I wear glasses, which means I have to wear a pair of glasses over my glasses and that’s annoying. While the 3D looks really good, I wouldn’t recommend spending the extra cash on the ticket. It doesn’t do anything to enhance the film.
The story isn’t covering any new ground in the realm of “prehistoric creatures showing up in modern times and wreaking havoc” films. That’s exactly what happens. A group of scientists are exploring the deepest depths of the ocean and they cross paths with a megalodon. The best rescue diver in the land has sworn off the ocean for a life of drinking all day and has to be coaxed back out to sea. Of course, he had to “retire” because he had a run in with the megalodon years before and no one believed him. Double of course, he’s going to do this rescue mission because one of the people who needs to be rescued is his ex-wife. As I said, no new ground is being broken here. This convoluted backstory is the stuff of bad sequels and is entirely unnecessary.
It points to the larger problem with The Meg. This movie doesn’t know what it wants to be. Until about halfway through, I thought I was watching the next classic shark film, unnecessary backstory and motivations aside. Director Jon Turteltaub was crafting an interesting story about scientists dealing with a problem that no one in history had ever had to deal with. The material was being taken seriously and it was actually compelling. And then at some point it takes a turn. We’re no longer absorbed in an interesting tale, we’re watching a ridiculous,over the top action movie. While this is fun, and honestly more in line with what I was expecting when I sat down, it was also disappointing.
This shift in tone is perfectly illustrated in the character arc of Morris, played by Rainn Wilson. Morris is the billionaire who is funding this entire project. He has shown up at the research center to take a peak at his investment, as you would do if you had spent millions of dollars on something. Morris is the easy bad guy in a poorly told story, he would show up and show no concern for the people around him and only care about the bottom line. The Meg doesn’t do that to him though. Throughout the first part of the film he is quite reasonable. Yes, he wants to know where his money has gone and he has dumb ideas about how to capitalize on the situation but he never spins into mustache twirling mode. More importantly, he seems to genuinely understand the peril that everyone is in and he’s actually worried about them. Shift to the second half of the film and he is a madman obsessed with destroying this creature and his crazed actions lead to the deaths of a number of people. While still not being totally evil and uncaring he has lost all sense of reason and acts like a completely different character.
All of this is played brilliantly by Wilson. The cast in this film is amazing. While Statham is on-screen doing his Statham thing, the rest of the cast is playing things perfectly. Even with the uneven script I can’t point to a single bad choice, let alone a bad performance. Page Kennedy is rapidly making his way on to the list of actors that I love to see on screen, he should be in EVERYTHING. Somehow, this is the first thing that I have seen Ruby Rose in but if she is always this good, I can’t wait for Batwoman.
I went into The Meg expecting a big, dumb summer shark movie and that’s ultimately what I got. When I walked out though, I was conflicted about the experience. It was almost something special. Apparently, halfway through they decided to settle for what it was supposed to be instead of reaching for what it could have been.