Home » ‘Meg 2: The Trench’ Review – Jason Statham Doubles Down on the Camp

‘Meg 2: The Trench’ Review – Jason Statham Doubles Down on the Camp

by Andrew J. Salazar
Jason Statham pushes himself back from the open jaws of a colossal Megalodon trying to eat him on a broken pier in MEG 2: THE TRENCH.

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn’t exist.

Meg 2: The Trench is hitting theaters five years after the release of the original 2018 film. In any other scenario for a blockbuster sequel, this long wait may be a nail in the coffin. However, this is the Meg we’re talking about. If you promise even more bloody carnage and prehistoric mayhem, people will come, especially since The Meg turned out to be a surprise box office smash in 2018. Meg 2: The Trench delivers on these promises, doubling down on its absurdity and, more importantly, its camp factor. The first film was already having some fun with its tongue-in-cheek humor, but here we see director Ben Wheatley fully embrace the B-movie. Is this a film for everyone? Absolutely not. Is this a movie for people who want to see Jason Statham literally punch dinosaurs and hunt down giant sharks on a jet ski? Hell yeah, it is. 

Screenwriters Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, and Dean Georgaris return and adapt The Trench, the second novel in science-fiction author Steve Alten’s MEG series. We’re reintroduced to Jason Statham’s Jonas Taylor, who’s now more like an eco-vigilante willing to take matters into his own hands to protect the world’s oceans. When he and the team from the Mana One research facility discover that some mysterious third party is mining for rare Earth metals below the thermocline in the deepest part of the Mariana Trench, where it was previously established that prehistoric flora and fauna still exist, chaos ensues. After a massive explosion, a breach in the thermocline is created, allowing all kinds of beasts to swim through and reach humanity. This includes the largest Meg the series has seen so far, and it’s not coming to the party alone.  

In true sequel fashion, Meg 2: The Trench is all about going bigger, featuring three megalodons this time around along with some more giant squid and dino action. However, this movie doesn’t mainly rely on its monsters to entertain the audience. Diving deeper into the realm of sci-fi and turning up the campiness leads to a sequel that can stand on its own. Think of it as neither better nor worse than 2018’s The Meg, but as another round with slightly different tastes. Ben Wheatley, best known for High-Rise, Free Fire, and In the Earth, takes over directing duties from Jon Turteltaub and knew exactly what type of film he was making from the get-go. Opening up with a flashback to 65 million years ago, if the sight of a megalodon chomping down on a Tyrannosaurus Rex doesn’t get you extremely hyped, then this isn’t for you. 

Jason Statham escapes the jaws of a giant Megalodon jumping out of the ocean while riding on a Jet Ski in MEG 2: THE TRENCH.
Jason Statham in ‘Meg 2: The Trench’ courtesy of Warner Bros.

Yes, the megalodon and T-Rex didn’t exist at the same time, so this opening sequence is scientifically inaccurate. But, ironically, that inaccuracy sets the tone for the entire film. Get ready to throw all science and logic outside the window! And let’s be honest, this is exactly what you came for. Meg 2: The Trench fully buys into Jason Statham as an indestructible action hero, and sometimes he does make the impossible look possible thanks to his signature stoicism. From punching dinosaurs at the bottom of the ocean in a mech suit to literally teaching himself how to control his body pressure so he doesn’t implode underwater (yes, really), Statham proves that he truly is that guy. Furthermore, his Jonas Taylor is now arguably just as badass as the leading characters in The Transporter and Crank franchises. Those are still better movies, yet the Meg series deserves its credit.

Jason Statham isn’t the only one who gets to have fun in Meg 2: The Trench. Returning faces like Page Kennedy as DJ and Cliff Curtis as Mac get the chance to almost steal the show with their hysterical dynamic. Teen actor Sophia Cai reprises her role as Meiying and gives the story a surprising amount of heart. When paired with Statham and Chinese actor Wu Jing, who plays her uncle and oceanic explorer Jiuming, they make for a likable trio you can really root for. Both males act like surrogate fathers to Meiying since she’s lost almost all of her family after the events of the first film. She now wants to be an adventurous explorer just like her two father figures, which obviously complicates things when three colossal megs are on the loose. Who doesn’t love a lil wholesome family banter in the middle of their monster movie?

Jason Statham and Sophia Cai hold each other with sighs of relief in an underwater facility in MEG 2: THE TRENCH.
Jason Statham & Sophia Cai in ‘Meg 2: The Trench’
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

What ultimately holds Ben Wheatley’s sequel back is that it feels like it needs to go even a bit more bonkers at times. The story takes a while to really get interesting and let the camp shine, which doesn’t do the film much favors either. The true stinger is that even by the end, you can still see the potential for more. Don’t get me wrong, when Meg 2: The Trench gets silly, it’s laugh-out-loud hilarious as intended. There’s nothing like seeing Jason Statham kick a dude into the jaws of a giant prehistoric shark. At the same time, other scenes feel like they hold back a bit and come off as stale. It’s a bit disappointing considering that everything else is already going off the rails. If you’re going to commit to the bit, you have to go all the way. 

Despite a few setbacks, Meg 2: The Trench gives exactly what the good people want to see: people getting chomped to pieces by prehistoric beasts and mean-ass one-liners. Director Ben Wheatley disguises a genuinely campy B-movie, like something that you would see on the Syfy channel in the mid-2000s, in the shell of a multi-million dollar blockbuster. In the current state of the industry and moviemaking, that is very admirable and deserves respect. This horror comedy is one for genre fans and for those craving a creature feature that’s unashamed to take things too far. We need The Meg 3 now more than ever.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Meg 2: The Trench hits theaters August 4!

Follow Managing Editor Andrew J. Salazar on Twitter: @AndrewJ626

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