The Meg (12A)

Action (2018)
113mins Chi/US

Starring: Jessica McNamee, Jason Statham, Ruby Rose, Bingbing Li
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Writer(s): Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Dr Zhang and his daughter Suyin oversee an international facility named Mana One, where scientists conduct experiments in previously uncharted depths of the ocean. During one of these missions, a craft loses contact with Mana One after a heavy collision. Dr Zhang and his associate James Mackreides head to Thailand to hire underwater rescue expert Jonas Taylor. He subsequently discovers that a voracious 75ft-long megalodon shark is on the loose in the waters surrounding Mana One.

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LondonNet Film Review
The Meg (12A)

It's not safe to go back into the water in director Jon Turteltaub's supersized horror thriller, which has been splashing about in development hell for two decades. Based on Steve Alten's best-selling novel, The Meg imagines the carnage wrought by a 75ft long megalodon shark on an underwater research complex, which has been constructed in delicious proximity to one of China's most popular tourist beaches. This all-you-can-chomp buffet of swimmers, surfers and sun-worshipping teenagers provides the film with an overblown action sequence saturated with digital effects, which are notable by their poor execution...

The Meg. Copyright: 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./RatPac-Dune Entertainment LLC. Caption: Li Bingbing as Suyin and Jason Statham as Jonas Taylor in The Meg, directed by Jon Turteltaub. Photo: Daniel Smith. All Rights Reserved.Laughable overhead shots of children paddling furiously away from the underwater threat suggest an entire generation of Chinese tykes in inflatable rings can outstroke swimming world record holders Michael Phelps and Adam Peaty. Humour isn't always intentional but a few crisp one-liners elicit chuckles like when one grief-stricken crew member, who barely escapes the jaws of the killer fish, caterwauls: "That living fossil ate my friend!" Leading man Jason Statham glowers on cue and removes his shirt for a gratuitous topless scene to verify he is in excellent gym-toned shape even if his film is bloated.

Dr Zhang (Winston Chao) and his daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing) oversee the Mana One research facility financed by bullish billionaire Morris (Rainn Wilson), which is located 200 miles off the Chinese coast. The state-of-the-art facility - currently under construction - will allow scientists to conduct experiments in hidden nooks and crannies of the Mariana Trench. During one exploratory dive, the Origin submersible piloted by Lori (Jessica McNamee), Toshi (Masi Oka) and Wall (Olafur Darri Olafsson) is attacked by an unidentified beast.

The stricken crew should have 18 hours of auxiliary power and oxygen so Dr Zhang and Mana One's station chief Mac (Cliff Curtis) make haste to Thailand to persuade underwater rescue expert Jonas Taylor (Statham) to return to the deep. "Your ex-wife and her crew are trapped," bleats Mac, who knows about Jonas's tragic past and his medical diagnosis of pressure-induced psychosis. Jonas obliges for the sake of Lori and he comes stubbled face to slippery snout with a voracious megalodon, which threatens the safety of everyone inside Mana One including Suyin's cherubic daughter Meiying (Sophia Cai), systems architect Jaxx (Ruby Rose) and remote craft pilot DJ (Page Kennedy). "Man versus meg isn't a fight. It's a slaughter!" snarls Jonas, baiting the hook for outlandish scenes of carnage.

The Meg swims in frequently charted waters and Turteltaub's film pays homage for extended periods to Steven Spielberg's vastly superior Jaws. Statham almost convinces us of a tepid romantic subplot with Bingbing's plucky mother, who single-handedly bears the film's emotional weight. She is compelling in underwritten scenes of parental concern that provide us with brief yet welcome respite from the monster-mashing mayhem.

- Sam Cannon

The Meg. Copyright: 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./RatPac-Dune Entertainment LLC. Caption: Li Bingbing as Suyin and Jason Statham as Jonas Taylor in The Meg, directed by Jon Turteltaub. Photo: Daniel Smith. All Rights Reserved.

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