Poffy The Cucumber

Scraping the bottom of the trench.

Jason Statham gets ONE semi-hearted jutsu scene at the beginning of MEG 2: THE TRENCH, then it’s just a dumb fish movie from there…

If you want a shark movie that’s stupid, try SHARKNADO. For a shark movie that’s boring, try THE MEG. If you want a shark movie that’s boring AND stupid, then MEG 2: THE TRENCH is your afternoon nappy time.

Jason Statham returns as conservationist Jonas Taylor, working with a team of undersea biologists led by Mac (Cliff Curtis). Gone are the principals from the last film – the lead scientist (Zhang) and Jonas’s love interest (Suyin) – unremorsefully written out of this script as dead… But the Chinese funding and Chinese market remain, so Jonas has informally adopted Suyin’s daughter, the young Chinese girl Meiying (Shuya Sophia Cai, who contributes nothing to this story), and lo, we have her Chinese uncle here, Jiuming (Jing Wu), as the lead scientist who owns a pet meg that he controls with a clicker. (Chekov’s Gun has entered the chat.)

And the finale takes place at a Chinese resort called – no kidding – Fun Island. When you provide the funding, you tell the filmmakers any old stupid name to call your locations, and they’ll say “Yes sir. May I have another?” Who says China doesn’t own America?

Opening sequence shows a megalodon rising out of the ocean to munch a tyrannosaur at the water’s edge – nice visuals, but total non-sense. As with the last movie, atmospheric pressure at gargantuan depths is given short shrift. No animal from 25,000 feet below sea level can simply rise to the surface and remain intact. Conversely, no surface dweller can descend to the depth of 25,000 feet unprotected and remain uncrushed. And I won’t even mention the simple physics impossibility of the meg jumping out of shallow beach water like the poster of JAWS.

Okay, I know it’s “just a movie” – but the movie itself keeps alluding to pressure (“Won’t he be crushed by the pressure?”), then simply takes the stupid way out (“Not if he blows out his sinuses”). And the filmmakers know what they’re doing, with the sly wink needle drop, Under Pressure. Now they’re just mocking us.

MEG 2 might be about fighting megalodons, but in the first act, you’ll be fighting sleep, as this slow-moving film talks its way out of not having the original principals, then foreshadows a mech suit that can smash rocks (which is never utilized to fight sharks), then shows us a meg taking orders from a beeper – honestly, we have zero investment in whether these dull, uninvolving characters get eaten or not.

Jason Statham’s opening scene is some welcome TRANSPORTER shit – fighting his way off a renegade ship dumping waste – but for the rest of the movie, he seems ill at ease just walking around speaking in that hybrid accent that he can’t quite do.

Mac’s mission is to send his crew below the thermocline to get eaten while doing no science. (I know, right? I thought, that can’t be the mission, and then writers Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, and Dean Georgaris write exactly that.)

In the previous movie, they described the thermocline correctly as the barrier of freezing water under which life finds it almost impossible to exist; below that barrier, there was the supposed Mariana Trench floor, represented as a nitrogen mist from a 1970’s Alice Cooper concert. Below that “mist” was another world of WARM water where life (and megalodons) thrived. No such nuance here. Now the thermocline IS the mist barrier. Because if you’ve seen THE MEG and are stupid enough to pay for this movie, the filmmakers know you must be pretty darn stupid. Hence, stupider movie for stupider folks.

The team, led by Jonas, use their mech suits to interminably trudge across the sea floor to escape their damaged sub – a title card tells us they are at The Trench, depth: 25,000 feet. The mechs are only exoskeletons, their bodies are mostly covered by wetsuits, basically exposed to the bone-crushing pressure at this depth. (At 15,000 feet (4.6 kilometers) pressure is about 455 times the atmospheric pressure at sea level. Do the math on their frail skeletons.) One guy gets a lamprey on his face and screams like a girl, rather than utilizing the supposed power of the mech suit. Then he gets beheaded by an octopus; small dinosaurian lizards with no gills attack them; megs chase them. Of what use are those super suits and their guns if the filmmakers ignore all their powers?! Except for Jason Statham, of course, who can somehow employ the same punchaboo power at 27 atmospheres as he can at the surface, with his Sweet British Right Hook.

Three megalodons chase our heroes into an undersea station. Then begin to eat the station. Why? Are the sharks dismantling the station with their teeth for a science project or something? Chomping on the metal is not satiating their digestive systems, and it’s not garnering mates – so what is the purpose of these sea creatures expending that much energy trying to eat stanchions and pipes?

Director of no note, Ben Wheatley’s lack of clout probably contributed to lots of studio interference with this summer blockbuster. Don’t know how his agent swung the gig, but I’m sure the overall lack of quality can’t be attributed to him alone: all the banal dialogue, annoying people doing stupid things in contrived action sequences that have no purpose, sudden bursts of CGI action not to fit the story but to keep people awake, ridiculous cartoonish sequences (Jonas on a jet ski battling three megalodons), with such bad jokes and badly-acted punchlines, it’s like a script written by a kindergartener.

Page Kennedy is inexplicably still on the crew; his emotionless lines could have been given to any number of other extras trying to earn their SAG cards. Sergio Peris-Mencheta is the bad guy in the deep-sea outlaw lab, who looks like a Peruvian Josh Brolin. There are two women who look exactly alike – Melissanthi Mahut and Whoopie Van Raam; when one of their helmets explodes, and then we see her alive, we have to wonder at the confusing casting choices.

The three megs (and a giant octopus and the tiny dinos) follow our heroes to the SURFACE and cause special effects mayhem at Fun Island – without any consternation to their innards.

And Jonas jet-skis around the three megs trying to kill them with three explosives… but all he has to do is explode one shark, and the other two will feed off it, then leave Fun Island alone. Nope. Jonas destroys one, and instead of having a shark sandwich, the other two ignore it and chase him. Meanwhile Peruvian Brolin and his cartoon henchmen continue trying to shoot our heroes and kill them – up until the point our heroes are actually standing in front of them with their hands up. Then they won’t shoot at all.

Jiuming’s pet meg turns up. Maybe it responds to his clicker now, by not eating him? Or maybe it turned at the last moment to go after some dolphins? We stopped giving a fuck a long time ago.

What is most disappointing about MEG 2: THE TRENCH, is that in the final telling, the size of the sharks doesn’t matter in the least. It’s just an initial jolt, then the amazement wears thin almost immediately. And Jonas hunts them as if they are normal-sized predators, hitting them, throwing explosives at them, kicking them…

If the sharks think they are going to defeat the superhuman Jonas in another sequel… they’re going to need a bigger meg.


MEG 2: THE TRENCH (Sep 2023) | PG-13
Director: Ben Wheatley.
Writers: Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, Steve Alten.
Music: Harry Gregson-Williams.
Starring: Jason Statham, Jing Wu, Shuya Sophia Cai, Cliff Curtis, Page Kennedy, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Skyler Samuels, Melissanthi Mahut, Whoopie Van Raam, Kiran Sonia Sawar, Sienna Guillory.
RATINGS-05 imdb
Word Count: 1,290      No. 1,630
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