Clashing halves: ‘Meg 2’ is an improvement over the original—but it fails by playing things too safe

The Meg was nothing to get excited about. In fact, it totally stunk.

However, it did make a lot of money back in 2018, so producers decided to greenlight a sequel. The sequel is also nothing to get excited about, but it is a big improvement on the original … and, of course, it is underperforming at the box office, possibly because so many viewers got burned by the first one that they’re waiting to rent the follow-up.

Meg 2: The Trench is almost good, but not quite. Jason Statham returns as some sort of eco-warrior who wants to protect the environment and wildlife, although he has no real problem disturbing prehistoric shark habitats and blowing them up with explosive harpoons.

The film is directed by Ben Wheatley, who made the wonderfully dark comedy Sightseers in 2012. Unfortunately, very little of that sinister-comic vibe carries over into this effort. Statham and company wind up deep-diving into some sort of underwater-mining facility in the film’s first half, and then giant sharks attack a vacation resort for the finale. The film opts for full sci-fi for its first half, and then makes a drastic turn toward horror-comedy in its second. To say the two subplots clash a bit would be an understatement—they smash into each other.

The tone is all over the place, and there’s surprisingly little giant shark action for a giant shark movie. The “trench” opening up and letting out a bunch of small dinosaur-type creatures and a giant octopus gives the film monster-movie potential, but it never really pays off and just feels scattershot.

That said, Meg 2: The Trench is markedly better than the last two Jurassic Park movies, and a gorier path might’ve helped this fully succeed. Instead, it plays it safe at PG-13 and misses an opportunity to be sick fun, at least in its more action-filled second half.

Meg 2: The Trench is playing at theaters and streaming on various platforms.

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