A good trailer can do wonders for a film. Now, that’s just marketing, and said film has to deliver on what the promotional material is promising, but it’s often a good start. At the same time, if the movie doesn’t deliver, it can lead to even greater disappointment. Such is the case with The Meg 2: The Trench, which pitched itself as a gonzo sequel that would be bigger and better in all manner than The Meg. Well, it’s bigger, I suppose. Better? Not really, and in fact might be a bit of a step down. Considering that The Meg wasn’t particularly good to begin with, that’s not where you want to be. Alas.
The Meg 2: The Trench wants to be wacky and a B-movie blast, but it doesn’t know how to do it. Almost every decision made is a misguided one, again somehow deciding that in a flick with a giant shark in its title, the audience should instead focus on corporate sabotage and dumb as rocks humans. There’s some winking attempts at comedy here, but this is more unintentionally funny than funny. Scary? Keep on dreaming. This is more like The Meh, if I can be a hack for a moment.
This sequel finds Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) again fighting giant sharks, but at first, he’s pretending to be a secret agent, exposing ocean polluters. Along with Jiuming Zhang (Jing Wu), Jonas continues to explore the trench at the bottom of the ocean with his team, including James ‘Mac’ Mackreides (Cliff Curtis), DJ (Page Kennedy), and others. Jonas is also parenting Meiying (Shuya Sophia Cai), with mixed results They have the Meg from the last movie in captivity, which he knows is a bad idea. When a dive goes terribly wrong and the Meg gets loose, things go from bad to worse.
There’s no point in revealing what happens down in the trench, but a large section of the film is spent nearly shark-less, which is a choice. Jonas and his team must survive below the depths, only to eventually have to come up for a battle with the Meg. This time, that’s not the only creature looking to dine on humans, either.
Jason Statham is again swallowed up by the CGI and over plotting. He’s at home in ridiculous action, but here, he’s given nothing to do. The action sequences meant to showcase him against other humans are bland, while the CGI battles are cartoons. He’s wasted. No one else fares much better, though Shuya Sophia Cai, Page Kennedy (sadly written as a cliched character from the early 1990s), and Jing Wu are given even less to do than Statham. Wasted too is Cliff Curtis, which is a real shame. The rest of the cast includes Sienna Guillory, Felix Mayr, Melissanthi Mahut, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Skyler Samuels, Kiran Sonia Sawar, and more.
Ben Wheatley is a major disappointment, in terms of what it was hoped that he could bring to this franchise as director. His deeply specific filmmaking is nowhere to be found, lost in a wildly mediocre screenplay from Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, and Dean Georgaris. Wheatley isn’t always for me, but any of his style or personality would have been nice to see. Instead, it’s a two hour wannabe blockbuster that’s too often boring, or worse, trying to be ridiculous without any clue of how to do it. This may resemble what a film crafted by AI would be like, and if so, the results are bleak.
The Meg 2: The Trench wants to be big and wild fun but It’s just a big and dumb bore. Color me disappointed. It promised a good time that is not to be found within. The moments that do entertain are few and far between. Something this purely meant to be light entertainment shouldn’t be such a slog. This is closer to chum than an apex predator.