I will be honest here, folks: I had a really hard time coming up with an opening paragraph to this review. I wanted to talk about Jaws and how it spawned a form of cinema known officially as “Jawsploitation.” However, each time I started writing, I kept thinking back to the film I had just finished watching a little over an hour before sitting down to write this review and how it left me feeling… well, it’s hard to describe without a complex metaphor.
You know how you see a commercial for a delicious looking new burger at a fast food place and you go to try it, but instead of what you saw in the commercial you are greeted by a burger that looks like it has seen better days? A burger with lettuce thrown every which way, a meat patty that is cooked to the point of being flavorless and a bun that looks like it once had dreams of a better future than where it wound up?
That is exactly how I feel now that I have seen The Meg.
The Meg is based on the best-selling book by Steve Alten. And by “based on,” I mean that screenplay writers Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber apparently read the book, ignored the story and instead of adapting the book correctly they gave director Jon Turteltaub a pile of used toilet paper and said “Here, this is the plot. Film this. It will make money.” Thus we get this poor excuse for a movie that makes you feel sorry for everyone involved. Except for Rainn Wilson, who really should have known better.
Jason “Here, Let Me Get Naked Again” Statham plays a man named Jonas – a rescue diver who was branded a loony after having a rescue mission he led end in the death of everyone else involved due to a mysterious attack from a mysterious force. Five years later, he is brought back in for another rescue mission to help save a crew (including his ex-wife), who discovered a new world of marine life beyond a thermo-cloud in the ocean. Said cloud just happens to be home to the presumed-extinct giant-shark known as The Megalodon. Naturally, the rescue mission causes The Megalodon to escape in an act of plot convenience, spurring our crew to stop “The Meg” before the whole world becomes its’ buffet.
With a plot like this, one would expect chaos on a level that could either be either sheer terror or silly fun – The Abyss or Piranha 3-D. Instead, we get sequences where Statham turns in his typical tough-guy performance (only wetter than usual), the most horrible dialogue this side of The Idiot’s Guide To Writing Bad Action Movie Dialogue and promises of massive carnage that instead deliver aquatic farts of action.
No scene personifies this more than the climax on a beach in China. Instead of blood and death, we get a few busted rafts before the shark is distracted by recordings of a whale on a cell phone underwater. No, I am not making this up. Call me bloodthirsty, but when you promote a shark film as being an apocalyptic festival of carnage, you better deliver. This movie does not deliver. The Meg should have been called The Meh.
It’s not just the bad writing and lackluster execution that makes The Meg insufferable though. It’s not the early 2000’s CGI. It’s not the Razzie-worthy performance of Rainn Wilson as the cliche jerk billionaire funding everything. It’s not the worst attempt at a love story this side of Attack of the Clones. It’s not even the embarrassed-looking Ruby Rose, who tries her best to make something of her character all while looking like she’s counting the seconds until she can get off set and fire her agent. It’s all of this and more that made The Meg into the sort of movie that makes Sharknado look like Jaws.
I honestly cannot recommend this film, even on an ironic level. It is so bloated with cliches and by-the-book plot developments meshed with stolen ideas from all the Jaws films including Jaws The Revenge that one questions if it had planned to make fun of itself but forgot how to be funny or self-aware somewhere along the way. To quote Jay Sherman from the classic TV series The Critic, “It Stinks!”