The movie also stars Rainn Wilson (who I didn’t even recognize in the trailer), New Zealand’s Cliff Curtis (from Fear the Walking Dead) and Chinese superstar Bingbing Li, and by superstar, I mean that she seems to be put into every movie from Transformers: Age of Extinction to Resident Evil: Retribution in order to get Chinese audiences to see her movies. She’s not to be confused with Tian Jing who Legendary who puts in all of THEIR movies (three, so far) in order to help get Chinese audiences.
Not surprisingly, “The Meg” — directed by Jon Turteltaub (“National Treasure”), from a script credited to a trio of scribes — has to resort to all kinds of idiocy to prolong the tension. But if a lot of the plotting (and some of the dialogue) is colossally stupid, it’s presented in a cheerful, old-fashioned, thoroughly unpretentious way, built on the simple premise that scaring people with sharks in summertime is a tried-and-true convention.
Because of those underpinnings, the writers don’t waste much time on science, or bother explaining how a living fossil might have survived this long. While the fear of the nuclear threat informed the giants let loose in the past, here it’s simple curiosity, which doesn’t quite possess the same cautionary kick.
The movie also stumbles occasionally in its efforts to be cute, veering out of its lane to incorporate little bits involving a dog and a kid.
The problem is that there are so many characters in the movie, each fighting for their little bit of screen-time against Statham. The writing is so driven by corny and obvious clichés, it’s almost painfully obvious the role each of these characters will play, including Page Kennedy’s funny black guy but especially Rainn Wilson’s corrupt billionaire who is going to make all the wrong calls for the sake of making money. Ruby Rose’s character gets very little to do as so much focus is put on Bingbing Lee’s character and her family. The thing is that you never feel much for either the characters that live or the ones that die, and an 8-year-old girl steals many scenes from the rest of the cast, including Statham.
Still, the special effects are convincing enough — considering what the audience is being asked to swallow — taking the inherent fear of sharks and incorporating science fiction to literally magnify them, in much the way “Deep Blue Sea” did a couple of decades ago. And like that time around, if somebody were to suggest that they’re going to need a bigger boat, everyone would be well advised to listen.