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Meg 2: The Trench forgets it's a shark movie

jason satham, meg 2
Meg 2: The Trench reviewWarner Bros.

Back in 2018, The Meg might not have been a massive hit with the critics, but it didn't stop the shark movie from becoming a box-office hit with more than $500 million worldwide.

A sequel was confirmed pretty much instantly even though we've had to wait five years for Jason Statham to get back into shark-killing mode. Meg 2: The Trench has now swum into cinemas with reviews embargoed until the day of its release in the UK.

Ordinarily that would set alarm bells ringing for most other movies. However, if there's one summer release that is critic-proof, it's Meg 2 as you'll already know if you want to see more Stath vs giant bloody shark action.

Are we saying this means our review is a bit pointless? Probably. But given we're part of the audience that very much wants to see Stath vs shark, we're committed – and we're also sad to say that the sequel forgets it's a shark movie.

jason satham, meg 2
Warner Bros.

If you need a plot for Meg 2: The Trench beyond Stath vs shark (three of them this time), here goes.

In the years since the first movie, Jonas Taylor (Statham) is now some sort of environmental spy, stopping all sorts of nefarious individuals from messing with the ocean as part of his work with the Oceanic Institute run by Suyin's brother Jiuming (Wu Ying).

He's also on hand to provide expert Meg advice given he's one of the few to go head-to-head with one and win. So Jonas and Jiuming head to the deepest depths of the ocean to map out the trench where they believe the Megs come from, and where all sorts of other prehistoric creatures lie.

Unsurprisingly, this mission doesn't go completely to plan when they run into an illegal mining operation on the seafloor. Soon Jonas is having to pull on all his expertise to survive a deadly race against time in another high-stakes battle for survival.

meg 2
Warner Bros.

Sounds perfect for a Meg sequel, right? Well, it would be if the sequel decided to focus more on the sharks and less on the humans. For the vast majority of Meg 2, the Megs are on the periphery, a threat that's out there but not the predominant threat that Jonas and his team are facing.

Instead, that threat is the mining operation run by Montes (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) who has help from inside Jiuming's company too. It turns the first half into a dull espionage thriller where Jonas punches more people than he does Megs, and even worse, it all takes place in the murky surroundings of the ocean floor meaning you can't see most of what's happening.

Statham has proven his action chops time and again, so it's less of an issue with what he's doing and more with expectations. You're not coming to Meg 2 for a corporate espionage plot; you're coming for some big-screen shark carnage which you're robbed of for large ponderous stretches of the sequel.

Perhaps if the villains were given more depth, it might have at least led to some satisfying deaths when they inevitably meet their demise. But they're all so one-note that they don't leave enough of an impression. In other words, they're not hateful enough for their deaths to be entertaining.

jason satham, meg 2
Warner Bros.

Eventually the sequel does break to the surface and director Ben Wheatley lets the sharks (and other prehistoric creatures, which we won't spoil here) loose on unwitting humans. There are flashes of what could have been, including a Meg's mouth view of a big meal and one hilarious Jonas killing pun, but it's not enough to save the sequel.

If you've seen the trailers though, you've seen the money shots and given its 12A rating, the deaths are all relatively bloodless like the first movie. Like The Meg as well, you've definitely seen better CGI, but at least you're getting some shark action.

Meg 2 is a movie that's never quite sure if it wants to play things totally straight or be self-aware, if it wants to be an actually serious horror movie (there are well-timed jump scares) or a ludicrous shark-chomping actioner. For a unique director like Wheatley, it all ends up being a flat mishmash of different genres and better movies.

The finale promises a potential direction for a third movie if Meg 2: The Trench is enough of a hit. We can only hope that third time's the charm when it comes to delivering on what should be such a home run of a concept.

2 stars
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Meg 2: The Trench is out now in cinemas.

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