Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, Cliff Curtis, Shuya Sophia Cai, Page Kennedy, Robert Taylor, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Jessica McNamee, Masi Oka
Written by: Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, based on a novel by Steve Alten
Directed by: Jon Turteltaub
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action/peril, bloody images and some language
Running Time: 113
Date: 08/10/2018

The Meg (2018)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Exclamation Shark

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Despite the enticing promise of Statham vs. a giant shark, this action movie lamely steals just about every shark movie conceit ever invented, while draining the suspense, terror, and fun out of them.

In The Meg, wealthy investor Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson) travels to China to see his new research station. There, scientists are attempting to discover a new level to the ocean floor, hidden by a layer of frozen gas. They break through, but before they can investigate further, they are attacked by an enormous megalodon, a prehistoric shark thought to be extinct.

With three of their number trapped on the ocean floor, the controversial but effective expert Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is called in to rescue them. Unfortunately, during the extraction, the "meg" manages to escape to the surface, and it's up to Jonas, shark expert Suyin (Li Bingbing), and the rest of the team to stop it before it reaches more populated areas.

The Meg starts well enough with its fun scientific discovery, which could have been explored a little further, but director Jon Turteltaub proceeds to barrel right past it with instant and relentless attacks that feel more like bludgeons than thrills. Shark fans will already know all the moves in this one — quite a few of them taken straight from Jaws — and the movie fails to conjure up anything even remotely like a surprise or a scare.

The action sequences are, if not exactly terrible, then certainly clunky, with plenty of largely meaningless, largely bloodless slaughter with not much impact. And, of course, the movie drags on way too long. Via a prologue, a half-hearted attempt is made to add some depth to Statham's character, specifically a rescue mission in which his decision resulted in two deaths, but this rarely gives him any pause during the movie's present day action.

In addition to its star, The Meg assembles a multi-cultural cast, but, with a couple of exceptions, not many of them are terribly layered or have much to do. Sadly, not even the shark is very interesting.

Picture and sound are fine on Warner Home Video's 2018 Blu-ray release (the Dolby Atmos track should be selected for best effect). Extras include three short behind-the-scenes featurettes and a couple of trailers at startup. The set includes a DVD and a digital copy.

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