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Tickles all the funny bones

The Meg

The Meg

The Meg
4 stars
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Stars: Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson
Duration: 113 mins
Class: 12
KRS Releasing Ltd

From the dark atmosphere of a rundown, once glorious LA hotel, this week’s second release takes us to the bright sunny sky and deep blue Pacific Ocean a few hundred kilometres off the coast of China. The Meg is one of the most fun popcorn movies of the summer, a welcome and mildly frightening – but also very funny – spawn of the Jaws stable.

The Meg is one of those movies I would advise you to watch having left your brain behind, and just be ready to go with the flow. The premise in itself had me performing an Olympic-worthy eyeroll, but my funny bone had the last laugh because ridiculous though the whole thing is, it is incredibly good fun, a worthwhile investment of two hours of your time.

The Meg, or Megalodon, is a 25-metre-long shark, which experts thought had long become extinct, being prehistoric and all that. But, they are proven wrong when a deep-sea exploration expedition which takes its crew beyond the bottom of the Pacific Ocean disturbs the creature.

It doesn’t take too kindly to the intrusion, and sinks its teeth into the idea of causing some very major mayhem.

Incredibly good fun, a worthwhile investment of two hours of your time

The film stars Jason Statham as leading deep-sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor who quits his job after his last rescue mission goes horribly wrong and he is forced to leave some people behind to die. His claims that he saw a terrifying creature, forcing him to abandon the mission, go unheeded, so he retires to Thailand to spend his time drinking beer in the sun. 

He is persuaded back to the job by Chinese oceanographer Dr Zhang (Winston Chao), who wants him to rescue the submerged crew. And, given Jonas’s ex-wife is with them, he doesn’t need much persuasion. And off he goes back into the depths of the ocean, provoking the ire of the Meg even more.

And it is indeed the ocean that is the only deep thing about this. Jonas is set up initially as a Character With a Past, though Statham seems to want none of this, for he soon ditches his trademark scowl to roll up his sleeves and do the job once the film moves into preposterous territory.

It’s a role that fits Statham to a tee and he clearly has fun with it in his numerous bloody encounters with the monster, until the glorious finale when The Stath and The Meg go mano a fin-o. He is surrounded by a game – and commendably diverse – cast, including Li Bingbing as marine biologist Suyin who gets into pretty much the same scrapes as Jonas (though has to be rescued by him once too often); Rainn Wilson as billionaire Wilson who finances the original expeditions, and Cliff Curtis, Page Kennedy, Jessica McNamee, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Robert Taylor, Shuya Sophia Cai and Masi Oka as Toshi.

The whole is filmed with gusto by director Jon Turtletaub and his cinematographer Tom Stern from a script that offers a sparse narrative and even sparser characterisation. Yet, there in nothing here that promises anything more than what it is – and there is excitement aplenty with many decent laughs thrown in for good measure, as we are treated to a series of set pieces of Jonas and the Shark with a motley crew along for the ride – and part of the fun is guessing who is going to be picked off next.

Before the Meg first bares its teeth we are treated to some tense underwater scenes as the crew descends to unfathomable depths (explained to us by the scientist of the piece played by Ruby Rose). Then things really kick off from one crew member’s encounter with a giant squid to a predicable swimmers-in-peril-on-a-crowded-beach scene, with many hapless onlookers that include a newlywed couple and their wedding party (including a pink-ribboned Yorkie), plus one too many close-ups of the Meg’s mouth in all its fangy glory…

All in all, daft but hugely entertaining.  

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