Review: With a floundering script and painstakingly uninventive cast, Ben Wheatley falls victim to this behemoth shark franchise. Meg 2: The Trench capitalizes on very few aspects that made the first movie an occasionally enjoyable romp.
I was definitively in the minority back in 2018 when I offered the sentiment that The Meg was an somewhat serviceable rendition of a subgenre so tedious and derivative for its own good. Sure, there have been some truly deranged creature features in the past to establish themselves as “cult classics,” but few have gone out of their way to establish themselves as anything more than a schlocky, midnight trip to your local theater. At least The Meg was no Sharknado.
And I thought The Meg occasionally carved out a new stake in between being a not-so-self-serious shark feast and a genuinely exciting monster bash. There are certainly problems with it, but I’m willing to forgive many of its downfalls if the return is a handful of sharp kills and one big megalodon given a lot of runway to work with.
So what happens when you strip all that and choose to focus on some unbearably trite human characters and a plot with way too many branches for its own good? Unfortunately, Ben Wheatley’s Meg 2: The Trench, which consumes its central auteur from the start and rarely lets him flex his creative muscles.
I’ve been enamored with a few of Ben Wheatley’s movies in the past, from 2021’s In the Earth, which redefined and transformed the traditional folk horror movie, to Kill List, which still has some of the more jarring imagery and editing in any film the last fifteen years. He’s made plenty of spectacular movies in his career, which is why The Trench feels like such an odd detour for him.
And it’s been cited that perhaps this is just his “one for them” so that he can get a passion project funded down the line, but even if that’s the case, I would expect a Ben Wheatley movie to look better than this and contain a few more scenes with intentionality and detail. Wheatley is just running through the motions here, capturing an uncharismatic Jason Statham trudging through the depths of the ocean to stop a corrupt mining operation.
Meg 2 tries to capitalize on what makes many of the medium’s best sequels work: build back better and more. Why have one megalodon when you can have multiple megalodons. It’s a premise that feels all too obvious, but done with little to no nuance at each stage of Meg 2. The CGI rendering is awful for long stretches of The Trench, and none of the settings feel truly lived in or authentic, rather a green screen or sound stage for the performers to work around.
Reviews for Movies like Meg 2
This movie fits snuggly with the Jurassic World films – frequently bad and void of what makes this genre work. Add in Transformers, which has always done a similarly sluggish job at making their human characters feel important in a world built for transforming cars, or in this case, prehistoric sharks.
So I didn’t find much to gleam from Meg 2. There is a stretch towards the end of the first act where our protagonists travel to the deepest depths of the ocean that I thought had some solid imagery and color schemes. It was maybe the first time that I felt Wheatley’s thumbprints on this project, but it’s quickly swept away with a few generic, clumsy chase sequences.
I think there’s plenty of room in the calendar for a few fun and invigorating creature features, especially from August to October. Unfortunately, entries like this will suggest otherwise – that audiences don’t have an appetite for schlock and camp. But Meg 2 isn’t even all that campy; it lives just to survive. There’s no flourish or excitement to go around. A forgettable movie for way too much of its runtime.
Where to watch Meg 2: The Trench: Max, VOD
Meg 2: The Trench Film Cast and Credits
Jason Statham as Jonas Taylor
Wu Jing as Jiuming Zhang
Shuya Sophia Cai as Meiying
Page Kennedy as DJ
Sergio Peris-Mencheta as Montes
Sienna Guillory as Driscoll
Cliff Curtis as Mac
Director: Ben Wheatley
Cinematography: Haris Zambarloukos
Editor: Jonathan Amos
Composer: Harry Gregson-Williams
Meg 2: The Trench movie on Letterboxd
The Trench movie on IMDb