Capsule Review: Meg 2: The Trench (2023)

So, Jon Turteltaub is out. And now, here comes Ben Wheatley taking over his place as the new director for Meg 2: The Trench. Compared to the more commercial-friendly Turteltaub, Wheatley’s resume is leaning more on the various genre fares, covering psychological horror (Kill List) to sci-fi thriller (High-Rise) and action-comedy (Free Fire). Enlisting Wheatley for a B-movie creature feature like Meg 2: The Trench sure looks like a step in the right direction.

But first, the plot: Our hero Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is back after the events of the 2018 movie. This time, he teams up with the now-14-year-old Meiying’s (Sophia Cai) uncle, Jiuming (Wu Jing) in the absence of Suyin (Li Bingbing chose not to return in the sequel). Their mission? Leading a research team including new (among them includes Melissanthi Mahut’s Rigas) and old (Cliff Curtis and Page Kennedy both return as Mac and DJ) crew members on deep-sea exploration beneath the trench. Mac and DJ are covering the base while Jonas and the rest of the team going all the way to the bottom.

As with the tradition for such like-minded movies, the exploration doesn’t go well as planned. They uncover a sinister plot revolving around a mining operation, which has to do with mercenary leader Montes (Sergio Peris-Mencheta). There are other shady characters involved too but that’s for you to find out.

The sequel sees Wheatley trying to expand more than just a mere creature feature. The added human villain angle is meant to raise the stakes and also complicate matters for Jonas to handle both sides. The other side? The Megs. Yes, Megs with an added “s”. It’s a sequel, remember? And that’s not all, as Wheatley and returning screenwriters — Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber and Dean Georgaris — include other prehistoric animals including a giant octopus and dinosaurs. But too bad the middle part of the movie feels lengthy. Although we still get some shark action, the extended moments of Jonas and his team dealing with the human antagonists somehow bores me. This is supposed to be a movie about battling the Meg(alodon) sharks. Frankly, why is it so hard for Wheatley to just stick to what we come here for?

This, in turn, makes the sequel stretches more than it should. It runs nearly two hours, similar to the first movie but at least, the latter focuses primarily on the sharks. Meg 2: The Trench could have used some serious trimmings since a leaner pace would do the sequel a better favour.

So, if you are here for the main course, you will have to bear around an hour or so. Once Jonas and his surviving crew members resurfaced, this is where Wheatley fulfils the promise of what a B-movie creature feature should be. It’s a bonkers, all-out elaborate third act from here and the good news is, it delivers. The CGI may have been a hit-or-miss affair but it doesn’t detract me from enjoying the outrageous lunacy of its action. Watching Statham’s Jonas taking on not one but three Megs using makeshift bomb-strapped harpoons while riding on a jet ski is a definition of B-movie fun.

The cast delivers a mix of okay-to-plain mediocre performances. Jason Statham is at his usual brooding self while franchise newcomer Wu Jing is a nice addition. Both Statham and Jing share decent buddy-movie chemistry. Unfortunately, Sergio Peris-Mencheta’s supporting turn as Montes is merely a standard-issue villain.