The best thing I can say about this film is that if you see it on a large IMAX screen you will not feel you have just watched one of the worst films ever made. Yet it is a box office smash. Go figure.
The Meg is an incredibly simplistic film that operates on a theme drawn from Moby Dick (1956) and Jaws (1975). Considered extinct eons ago, a giant shark known as Megalodon is unleashed from the ocean floor where Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is called upon to function as Gregory Peck’s Ahab.
Knowing ahead of time that I would likely find this film to be little more than ridiculous fluff, I decided to see it at the IMAX theater at the extraordinary Indiana State Museum in downtown Indianapolis. Even if your worst experience in life was secretly filmed, it would be tolerable to watch it in that magnificent setting.
Such was the case with The Meg. To begin with, this movie was largely sponsored and filmed by Chinese theatrical interests. While sensing that it would likely die quickly in American theaters, it is clear that they were counting on a big box office smash in their country.
Just as Matt Damon was recently used as little more than the pitchman in the recent Chinese spectacle The Great Wall (2016), Jason Statham serves the same purpose here. An actor who has given thoroughly entertaining performances in films beginning with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1999), Snatch (2000), the Transporter films beginning in (2003) and the very funny Spy (2015), he repeatedly succeeds as an engaging villain with a spirit that you admire.
In The Meg, however, Statham’s Taylor does little more than repeatedly dive to ocean depths to save attractive trapped women, one of whom is his ex-wife. And while the film has some credible performance by Winston Chao as an oceanographer and Li BingBing as his daughter with underwater skills, the film contains an absolutely wretched performance by Rainn Wilson, here playing a billionaire who was sponsoring the offshore exploration site that lost its bearings. While Wilson was supposed to be funny, he is borderline offensive in every scene, and I must give this spoiler alert by saying that you will be gratified when the Megalodon devours him near the end of the film.
Let me end with one profound disappointment. While I was thankful to see the shark killed at the end of Jaws, I wish our Megalodon would have eaten all of the principal characters in this movie. I truly think that most of the audience members would have responded with the cheer “Atta boy, shark. Atta boy.”