The Meg

 

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Jason Statham goes fishing in a film not so much action-packed as action-bloated.

 

Meg, The

Pacific fin: Jason Statham and Meg

 

As illustrated by the BBC/Discovery Channel series The Blue Planet and its sequel, we still know surprisingly little about the bottom of our oceans. Where we once thought it impossible for life forms to exist, we now know that organisms of every shape, colour and size thrive in seemingly inhospitable worlds. In short, nature will find a way. In this Sino-American co-production adapted from the novel by Steve Alten, oceanographers discover that the Mariana Trench is not the deepest place on earth. Two hundred miles off the Chinese coast, a submersible penetrates the ocean floor to find it is merely a thermal cloud, beneath which exists a whole new ecosystem. There, the three crew members also discover the presence of a creature the size of a blue whale, albeit with a really bad attitude. It is in fact a megalodon, thought to have been extinct for millions of years. Time to call for Jason Statham.

 

Jason Statham is in his element in cheesy big-budget B-movies, but as a former competitive diver (he competed for England at the 1990 Commonwealth Games), he is also in his element in the water. Here, the 51-year-old gets to exhibit his considerable aquatic finesse along with a torso that no man in his fifties should be entitled to. But his six-pack is not the only eye candy on view: all three of the female scientists in the film (Li Bingbing, Ruby Rose and Jessica McNamee) could pass for supermodels.

 

Inevitably, Jon Turteltaub’s The Meg will be compared to another film about a shark, released back in 1975 – and it doesn’t hold up well. It is formulaic, predictable and contrived, and like the recent Skyscraper, it vies for the title of most ludicrous popcorn blockbuster of the summer. However, while it lacks the innovation, atmosphere and suspense of Steven Spielberg’s classic, it does have its share of jump scares and delivers on a purely primal level. Certainly, at the screening I attended, the children were screaming their heads off, but then this isn’t a children’s film. It does have a 12A certificate – for “bloody moments and action violence.” Be warned, there will be severed limbs. But grown-ups should have little to fear, as The Meg features nothing but stock characters, while a measure of the film’s intelligence is demonstrated by the closing song, the 1979 ‘Mickey’, covered here by the Thai singer Pim. Quite what the lyrics have to do with anything is anybody’s guess: “Hey, Mickey, Hey, Hey, Hey Mickey.” Right.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, Page Kennedy, Jessica McNamee, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Robert Taylor, Sophia Cai, Masi Oka, Cliff Curtis.

 

Dir Jon Turteltaub, Pro Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Colin Wilson and Belle Avery, Screenplay Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber, from the novel Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten, Ph Tom Stern, Pro Des Grant Major, Ed Steven Kemper, Music Harry Gregson-Williams, Costumes Amanda Neale.

 

Warner Bros. Pictures/Gravity Pictures/Flagship Entertainment/Apelles Entertainment/Di Bonaventura Pictures/Maeday Productions-Warner Bros.

113 mins. China/USA. 2018. Rel: 10 August 2018. Cert. 12A.