The Ridiculous Meg 2: The Trench Quickly Gets Lost at Sea

Movies Reviews Ben Wheatley
The Ridiculous Meg 2: The Trench Quickly Gets Lost at Sea

To walk into Meg 2: The Trench and not expect to see a beyond-absurd, physics-defying romp requires three things. First, you cannot have seen the film’s notoriously unhinged predecessor, The Meg. Second, chances are you don’t know what a “Meg” is (a 75-plus-foot shark). And finally, you somehow–probably for the better–aren’t privy to the fact that shark movies have recently become the most ridiculous horror subgenre.

Directed by Ben Wheatley, Meg 2: The Trench earnestly takes on the challenge of being even more brazenly goofy and ludicrous than the first film. The sequel opens with some janky CGI prehistoric fish fighting to the death, and after that, it doesn’t exactly tone down. You’ll see: A lot of Megalodons (obviously), even more lizard-like creatures and at least one giant octopus (which may or may not square off with a helicopter). Just another Tuesday for Jason Statham

Believe it or not, these computerized fish actually play a role in something that resembles a plot. Indeed, it’s easy to forget that Meg 2 is actually following a story, but it is, and it goes a little something like this: Gruff, foul-mouthed deep sea diver Jonas Taylor (Statham) ventures to the bottom of the Mariana Trench to conduct research on those naughty sharks that everyone is talking about. Along for the ride is his brother-in-law Jiuming Zhang (Wu Jing), and aspiring diver stepdaughter Meiying (Sophia Cai), who sneakily snuck onboard. But when their submersible crashes on the ocean floor, Jonas must lead his crew and family back to safety. Luckily, the sharks decide to cut them a break and they make it back up to the surface unscathed. The end!

Just kidding! In actuality, Meg 2 is a series of unfortunate events that is so non-stop that it will exhaust even the biggest action enthusiast. There are sharks, duh, but there is also an illegal mining conspiracy, more villains than you can count on one hand, shoot-outs, jet ski chases, homemade bombs and, really, that’s just scratching the surface. The ludicrousness of Meg 2 isn’t just limited to its over-the-top action sequences. The film also does very little to adhere to reality. I’m no scientist, but I have a feeling that you can’t simply waltz out of a 25,000-foot-deep submarine. 

But I digress. The fact that Meg 2 packs so much into its nearly two-hour runtime makes a little more sense when you learn that the film has the same three writers as the first: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber and Dean Georgaris. This checks out, because the movie feels suspiciously like three people each wrote their own version and then someone sloppily stitched them together at the last minute. 

I will always be the first person to champion silliness, especially where sharks are concerned. But in Meg 2, Wheatley appears so committed to fashioning the most preposterous imagery possible (a shark getting stabbed by a helicopter propeller, for example), that they quickly lose any shock value or humor. The result is… well, boring, which is kind of an impressive feat for a big-budget, Statham-starring, mega-shark joint.

Wheatley attempts to ground the ludicrousness of Meg 2 with a family-over-everything emotional core, but even that falls flat pretty quickly. Jonas is a tough guy with a big heart, but, sadly, this tried-and-true trope fails to evoke any semblance of emotional depth. Much of this has to do with Statham, who phones it in so hard I’m not even sure he knew what movie he was filming. He delivers his cheeky, surly lines with the monotone apathy of someone reading items off a grocery list. Luckily, Cai saves the day at some points, playing Meiying with the grit, tenacity and vulnerability vital to an adventure story.

Cai isn’t the only good thing about Meg 2. The film’s third act takes on a surprising tonal departure and transforms into a delightful sea-monster flick a la 1978’s Piranha. But for the most part, Meg 2 should have kept most of its ideas stored away down in the trenches. All there’s left to do is hope that, when a third installment inevitably comes out, it’ll have a little more bite.

Director: Ben Wheatley
Writer: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, Dean Georgaris
Stars: Jason Statham, Wu Jing, Sophia Cai, Page Kennedy, Sergio Peris-Menchata, Skyler Samuels
Release Date: August 4, 2023

Aurora Amidon is a film journalist and passionate defender of Hostel: Part II. Follow her on Twitter for her latest questionable culture takes.

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