This thrilling sequel to the 2018 shark blockbuster, which was somewhat mild in comparison, significantly improves upon its predecessor by delivering more gore, humor, and stylishness.
In “Meg 2: The Trench,” directed by British filmmaker Ben Wheatley, known for his darkly comic thrillers with stomach-turning body counts, including dogs, the story follows a cute dog, an 8-year-old girl, and numerous sunbathing beachgoers who miraculously survive the shark mayhem in “The Meg” (2018). With Wheatley’s touch, the killer-shark movie takes a more vicious turn, promising an adrenaline-pumping experience.
Despite the movie maintaining a PG-13 rating like its predecessor, Wheatley cleverly crafts creative and intense scenes where bad guys and side characters meet their fate, tapping into those horror-adjacent pleasure centers. Notably, one scene shot from the shark’s perspective as it devours people showcases the director’s prowess in crafting suspenseful moments.
In the first “Meg,” we witnessed the chaos caused by a long-extinct carnivore wreaking havoc among scientists, reminiscent of “Jurassic Park.” Now, in “Meg 2,” the director takes a natural step forward, drawing inspiration from “The Lost World.” Our hero Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), the shark-hunting ocean protector, now has the added responsibility of protecting his stepdaughter (Sophia Cai). The movie’s thrill escalates with an array of prehistoric predators, including land-roaming dinosaurs and a giant squid, providing an exciting and adventurous experience. As it pays playful homage to “Jaws 2,” “Meg 2” embraces its own fun and light-hearted irreverence.
The film’s prevailing atmosphere is one of the director having a great time, resulting in frequent moments of amusement and occasional delights. The tone remains light and sometimes verges on parody, evident when a villain’s confident speech gets interrupted by a shark appearance straight out of “Deep Blue Sea,” or when a pink title card cheerfully introduces “Fun Island” about to face three descending sharks. The movie even playfully references the classic idiom by having Statham’s character literally jump a shark.
While the first “Meg” had some comic relief, it felt more studio-driven. Interestingly, “Meg 2” brags a flash mind that feels more normal and fitting to the material. The supporting cast, particularly Page Kennedy and Cliff Curtis as scientists joining the action, enjoy more freedom to showcase their humor and silliness. Sight gags add verve to the movie, including an escalating bit where our heroes keep stumbling into the same armed holdup. Fortunately, this time, no dogs are harmed, as the madcap mayhem elsewhere offers more than enough excitement without going overboard.
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