Today: April 11, 2024

Meg 2: The Trench

I’ve not got a great deal to say about Meg 2: The Trench, but I know I needed to get some thoughts out there to tip the scales a little more in its favour. Critics have been harsh, tearing the film from limb to limb – it even debuted with a rare 0% on Rotten Tomatoes (which has steadily grown to the dizzying heights of the mid-20s since). 

Be advised, mild spoilers follow – if you’re concerned about Meg 2: The Trench being spoiled.

Following on from 2018’s The Meg, this bombastic sequel basically does everything the first film did, again – a comparatively slower first half with nautical misadventures deep in the Mariana Trench (here, an unfortunately timed submersible disaster is the catalyst for the rest of the film’s carnage) before some big bastard sharks come to shore and fucks shit up at a holiday resort in the film’s barmy tongue-in-cheek climax. Meg 2 knows exactly what it is, and sticks to its guns. It’s tonally inconsistent, with clunky narrative beats and questionable character choices. A straight-faced and drawn-out conspiracy plot around illegal deep-sea mining is stuffed with cliché and predictability, with signposted character betrayals failing to make much of an impact. And yet. It’s heaps and heaps of fun, if you adjust your mindset beforehand. 

Yes, Meg 2: The Trench is surprisingly engaging if you go into it with realistic expectations. Opening while big hitters Oppenheimer, Mission: Impossible and Barbie are still in cinemas, here is a film that requires zero brain cells to enjoy. Almost everything about it is one-dimensional (unless you attend a 3D screening) but it’s a bloody good time. Without the blood, mind you – gore is practically non-existent in The Meg’s world. Sharks, squids and dinosaurs (yes) get absolutely annihilated with blood and guts galore, but you’ll not see a drop of human blood. Go figure. An imploding diving helmet does offer one of the film’s grisliest kills, though, after our heroes stomp 3 kilometres across the ocean floor in chonky exoskeleton diving suits after a baddie causes an underwater landslide with explosives to try and kill Jason Statham – has he never seen a Jason Statham film? You can’t kill Jason Statham.

Meg 2: The Trench is certainly a film of two parts – it feels like two films in one. The first half is a pretty generic underwater thriller, and the second half is just all-out sea creature attack carnage. The two parts certainly make a whole, though – you need the build-up, for the contrast of just how barmy the climax is. The first hour has been one of the things many critics have focused on, but shut up, it’s great. It’s straight-faced absurdity into wink-wink absurdity. Just let the absurd wash over you.

Statham punches sea-beasties and throws explosive harpoons at sharks from a jet-ski. He kills one megalodon with a helicopter propeller he’s wielding. It’s utterly absurd. Page Kennedy and Cliff Curtis return as DJ and Mac, bringing some of the film’s biggest laughs – DJ’s soft, defeated “that was some unfortunate shit back there” after being captured by what is basically pirate-terrorists had me howling. 

You know what, I’ll say it – I absolutely loved Meg 2: The Trench. The more I think about it, the more I dig it. It’s bonkers, barmy fun. It feels almost like a spoof, but not quite, and the almost-spoof territory it resides in is a very sweet spot. It’s silly enough for us to be in on the joke of its absurdity, without it hamming up the goofiness for cheap laughs. 

Just…right, I hate being that person who defends trashy films by saying “hey, it’s not trying to be Citizen Kane, cut it some slack!”. But it’s hard not to when you see films like Meg 2 get such a nasty dressing down when they’re just out to give you a goofy good time. We need films like Meg 2 as much as we need our Oppenheimers. I feel I need to remind you that Meg 2’s climax has Jason fucking Statham throwing explosive harpoons at sharks from a fucking jet-ski. If you can’t watch that and not automatically bestow five stars upon the film, you don’t deserve nice things. Tsk tsk. 

Also, this was inexplicably directed by Ben Wheatley, who did Kill List to us.

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