The Goofiest Sci-Fi Monster Movie is Exactly What It Needs to Be
Sometimes, pitting Jason Statham against a massive shark is all a movie really needs to do.
There are movies that are just straight-up bad, and then there are movies that are bad but also kind of awesome. Usually, the difference between the two is that one takes itself too seriously, while the other doesn’t at all. It is, after all, a whole lot easier to have fun watching a movie that has no illusion about its quality or impact than it is one that very clearly thinks it’s better than it actually is.
The Meg, thankfully, falls squarely into the bad-but-fun category. The Jon Turteltaub-directed 2018 blockbuster about a massive shark that goes on a killing spree is just as dumb and bloodthirsty as it needs to be. The experience it provides is, by no means, a unique or particularly memorable one, but it is a lot of fun. Even more importantly, it’s a film that’s smart enough to know that the prospect of seeing Jason Statham go head-to-head with a giant shark is one of those summer matinee movie promises that’s really hard to pass up.
That’s probably why The Meg was not only a box office success in 2018, but has since spawned a sequel, which is set to hit theaters in the U.S. on August 4. Ahead of that film’s release, here’s why Inverse recommends that you stream The Meg on Max ASAP.
The Meg’s premise is simple: It follows the crew of an underwater research facility as they are repeatedly attacked and hunted by a giant shark known as a “megalodon.” At the center of the film’s underwater crew is Jonas Taylor (Statham), a deep-sea diver whose previous encounter with a megalodon ruined his life and career. Consequently, when he realizes early in the film that he has a chance to finally kill the shark that single-handedly turned his world upside down, he jumps at it.
The Meg, in other words, sticks fairly close to the same shark movie formula as films like Jaws and The Shallows. Sudden, disorienting shark attacks punctuate its first half, while its second is defined by its heroes’ desire to hunt down the shark itself and kill it. Of course, The Meg also operates, much like its titular beast, on such a cartoonishly huge scale that it’s impossible to approach it with the same level of earnestness as you would, say, Jaws. Fortunately, The Meg doesn’t ask that you do.
It becomes clear pretty early in The Meg that the film doesn’t want to do much more than tear certain characters apart and let Jason Statham kick some serious shark fin on-screen. To its credit, it does both of those things fairly well. Despite its PG-13 rating, the film delivers a few shockingly brutal kills, including the moment when a nighttime shark attack leaves nothing but one unlucky character’s severed hand behind. Indeed, as one-note and uninteresting as many of its characters are, The Meg still generates real entertainment by putting them in constant danger.
Behind the camera, Turteltaub has a lot of fun finding different ways to visually emphasize the scale and danger of the film’s megalodon. That’s particularly true during one scene in which he lets the shark silently creep up on an unsuspecting little girl until the size of just its dead-eyed face alone has completely dwarfed her. During the film’s climactic, surprisingly ruthless beach attack, Turteltaub again spotlights the outlandish size of its central shark by cutting to an overhead shot of its massive body swimming through a crowd of terrified swimmers.
As eye-popping as its eponymous monster is, though, The Meg would be nothing without Jason Statham. Over the past 10 years or so, Statham has slowly but surely cemented his place as one of the most charismatic and capable action stars of his generation. While The Meg certainly isn’t his best film, either, it’s still an effective reminder of how charming and likable he can be on-screen. He’s at his most lighthearted in The Meg, a film that doesn’t necessarily make you believe he could actually take down a megalodon but, nonetheless, makes seeing him do it well worth the price of admission.