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Meg 2: The Trench Movie Review (2023): "It's for the Cool Kids"

“Meg 2: The Trench” Is for the Cool Kids

More Teeth, More Explosions, More Statham... Yes Please

by Dan Kotnik

Imagine a room of 12-year-old boys. They’ve been left to their own devices for 24 hours with nothing but a party keg of Mountain Dew, lines and lines of Fun Dip and a continuous loop of “Shark Week” programming. What would emerge from this cave of hormonal wonders is “Meg 2: The Trench.”

Is that a compliment or a criticism? Yes.

“Meg 2,” the follow-up to the 2018 debutant film of what I’m sure will be at least a trilogy franchise, premiered this week amidst the fog of the recent “Barbenheimer” fallout. This newest piece of cinema doesn’t offer meta-criticisms of centuries-old social hierarchy, an ensemble cast or 70mm filming. No, here, the goal of the movie was simple: take “The Meg” and give it the “Poochie” treatment.

Louder, angrier and – while there may not be a time machine – “Meg 2” compensates with a massive portal to an undersea hellscape filled with prehistoric water monsters. Potato, potato.

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Jason Statham Does His Job, Helped by a Tremendous Supporting Cast

Jason Statham returns as Jonas Taylor, a famed deep-sea diver and Meg-killer, four years after the events from the first movie. Jonas is helping his old friends continue research of the newly discovered world in the depths of the ocean. However, he is also now moonlighting as both an eco-activist and a single dad. “Meg“-love interest Suyin is unceremoniously killed off-screen, leaving teenage daughter Meiying in his custody.

These plot devices are designed to act as natural paths for arcs in Jonas’ character development. Yet they don’t fall flat as much as they just cease to exist 20 minutes into the movie. Statham keeps it emotionally in first gear for most of the movie, reacting to both shark and human with equal levels of annoyance and glares. Even his adoptive daughter gets treated more like a nuisance than a beloved family member.

Thankfully, the cast of characters in his crew pick up the slack and expertly fill in the emotional gaps left in Statham’s wake. Cliff Curtis (Mac) and Page Kennedy (DJ), reprising their original roles, have maybe the most fun of anyone in the entire nearly two-hour run time. Franchise newcomer Jing Wu (Jiuming Zhang) does a fantastic job as a second banana to Statham. But maybe the hardest role of any disaster movie might be that of the “disaster child”, and it’s here we see Sophia Cai as Meiying repeats and builds off her performance in the original.

It’s clear everyone knew their roles coming into this and played them perfectly. If Statham fighting sharks on a jet ski is the sizzle of this movie, these performances are the steak.

“Meg 2” Ratches up the Monsters, As Well as the Body Count

If you saw “The Meg,” you may have come away with the same question I had:  “Why didn’t the skyscraper-sized shark kill more people?” Fear not, dear reader. The visionaries on “Meg 2” heard you loud and clear.

Very. Loud.

Especially when contrasted with its predecessor, “Meg 2” is a feeding frenzy of on-screen fatalities, and it’s not just the sharks getting in on the action. Turns out, the deep sea home of the “Megs” is host to Kraken-esque giant octopi and some type of unidentified amphibious lizard dogs(?). The portal blown between these two ocean worlds – due to an underwater mining explosion caused by the movie’s true antagonist, capitalism – is large enough for all of them to head up to the surface and towards a beachside resort named “Fun Island.” Apparently, “Live Forever Island” was taken.

Between the many innocent (sometimes not-so-innocent) island partiers and a dozen or so militia-type bad guys, there’s plenty of chum in the water. As the movie moves between new set pieces and locations, our fishy friends find increasingly creative, and in some cases karmic, ways to devour and destroy. It’s this cocktail of never-ending victims in entertaining locales that keeps the carnage and the movie from wearing thin.

More sharks, Please

As mentioned in the beginning, the flaws and gems of this movie are one-in-the-same: it’s dinosaur sharks, what did you expect? Like a playground bully, the movie draws a line in the sand pretty early on and forces you to choose which side you want to be on. Are you a cool kid that likes big-ass sharks, explosions and jet skis, or are you a nerd that’s going to question how Jason Statham could free dive the Mariana Trench? Personally, count me among the cool kids.

Thanks for reading my review of “Meg 2.” If you’re inexplicably looking for more of me, find me on Twitter @DKalltheway.

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