Jason Statham: The Meg and Bad Movie Bingo 

Sarah Posted by Sarah at August 9, 2018 15:16:11 August 9, 2018 15:16:11

The answer is yes, The Meg is exactly the movie you think it is. But it is not the movie you want it to be, because it is rated PG-13 which sucks the blood and guts out of what would otherwise be a grade-A sharksploitation flick. The Meg should have been the second coming of late 90s trashterpiece classic Deep Blue Sea, but that PG-13 rating keeps it from achieving its true, awful potential. As is, The Meg ranks ahead of recent shark movie 47 Meters Down—The Meg is, at least, entertaining—but it lacks the indie flare of The Shallows. It’s not unwatchable, it’s just baffling to me that somehow Piranha 3D is the only mainstream movie this decade to understand what we want to see when we go to “something’s in the water” movies, which is creatures with sharp teeth eating the sh*t out of people.   

Jason Statham revisits his diving days as Hero—don’t ask me to remember anyone’s names, that involves memorable characters of which The Meg has none—a washed-up rescue diver who has to get back in the game in order to rescue researchers trapped on the ocean floor after a mysterious leviathan attacks them. (Bonus Points: One of the trapped researchers is his ex-wife.) The Meg is basically a round of Bad Movie Bingo, with every cliché in the book from a nerd sidekick to a helicopter crash to “It’s right behind you” to a dumb wiener kid—all it’s missing is Gerard Butler rescuing the president. It’s not that any of it works, it doesn’t, it’s that Statham is so f*cking good at being an action hero he makes this sh*t watchable.

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And credit to screenwriters Dean Georgaris and Jon & Erich Hoeber (adapting from the novel by Steve Alten) for making some of the clichés actually good. The dumb wiener kid (played the adorable Shuya Sophia Cai), for instance, is an unusually tolerable example of the species largely because Turtletaub makes no attempt to insert her into the action. She’s just present in a location and she’s not any more involved in the danger than she has to be by virtue of her location. It also certainly doesn’t hurt that director Jon Turtletaub—whose career encompasses everything from the 90s trifecta of 3 Ninjas, Cool Runnings, and While You Were Sleeping to the National Treasure movies—is good with both actors and ludicrous premises and he directs with the logic-be-damned aplomb that so often colors his movies. The Meg feels very 90s, except in the 90s it definitely would have been rated R.

I really can’t get over that a movie featuring giant prehistoric death machines doesn’t have more graphic shark attacks, but The Meg does have plenty of insane plot points. The whole premise rests on the hypothesis that the floor of the Mariana Trench is, in fact, a thermal layer separating the ocean as we know it and a prehistoric zone preserved in mystery. This is an instantly endearing piece of nonsense science that gives a glimpse of what The Meg could have been if it was more committed to the shark attacks. Also Hero’s nerd buddy is super committed to match-making Hero and Girl (Bingbing Li), even though, you know, they’re basically chum and it’s really not a good time. That’s never stopped any bad movie romance, though, it doesn’t stop The Meg, either, nor does the complete lack of chemistry between Statham and Bingbing. And yes, there are multiple instances of The Stath diving into the water to save someone’s ass from sharks, which, again, could be a lot more spectacular. 

Some movies really just need to be rated R, and The Meg is one of those movies. This should be a bloody schlock-fest a la Lake Placid, but instead it’s a weirdly tame survival movie. Jason Statham is trying but he can’t make up for what The Meg is missing. It’s passable as dumb-fun cheese, but it’s also completely disposable. But hey, it is GREAT for a round of Bad Movie Bingo, which is why there is a bingo card for you attached to this post. The only way to enjoy The Meg is to make a game out of its complete, almost willful badness.


 

Photos:
WENN

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