Five years after Jason Statham’s first encounter with a giant shark, “Meg 2: The Trench” emerges in theaters, promising a larger-than-life sequel with more underwater monsters, higher stakes, and even more over-the-top action than its predecessor. However, while the film expands the world of “The Meg,” it falls into some of the same pitfalls that led to the original’s mediocre critical reception.
The story picks up six years after the events of the first movie, where the Oceanography Center of Hainan has discovered megalodons lurking beneath the ocean floor’s thermocline. The scientists involved in the discovery, along with the Mana One research center, work on expanding their research into the mysterious trench. To deal with the ongoing threat of megalodons, the research center invests in advanced submarines capable of emitting electrical charges and exoskeletons for deep-sea diving. They even raise a baby megalodon for study purposes, delving into the secrets hidden in the uncharted depths of the ocean.
Jason Statham’s character, Jonas Taylor, is now fully embracing his role as the father of Meiying Zhang, a rebellious 14-year-old eager to explore the trench. Meiying’s mother is absent from the sequel, and Jonas shares his parental responsibilities with Meiying’s uncle, Jiuming, who now runs the research center. While Jiuming is far from being the action hero Jonas is, he serves as a co-protagonist, bringing a contrasting personality to the mix. The film also introduces a group of mercenaries led by Montes, a villain with ties to Jonas, adding further complexity to the story.
Despite the film’s efforts to expand its world and set up potential sequels, “Meg 2: The Trench” suffers from bloating, stretching its story too thin in various directions. The action-packed third act fails to deliver the excitement seen in the first film, and some of the new action scenes lack clarity due to close-quarters framing and over-editing.
The film’s strength lies in its horror-focused sections, tapping into the fear of the unknown as the characters face new undersea terrors. The lack of visibility in the trench adds to the tension, but it also occasionally hinders the audience’s ability to follow the attacks of the new creatures. The script explores the dark alien world of the trench, showcasing the potential of the franchise if it remained focused on horror. However, the movie ultimately falls into the same trap as its predecessor by overemphasizing action over embracing the campiness of its concept.
The film’s final act becomes overly convoluted, attempting to tie up various loose ends, develop the side characters, and deliver a massive action spectacle, all in one go. This results in an excessively long and distracting sequence that loses the impact of the man versus beast spectacle.
Additionally, the human villains in “Meg 2: The Trench” are poorly written, detracting from the film’s enjoyment whenever they appear on screen. Their presence in the third act further diverts attention from the main storyline and diminishes the excitement of the climactic showdown.
Despite these flaws, the film does have some entertaining moments, like the goofy scene of Statham jousting against megalodon sharks. It makes one wonder why the sequel insists on pursuing a blockbuster action setting when it could have excelled as a pure horror or horror-comedy experience.
In the end, “Meg 2: The Trench” doesn’t deviate much from its predecessor, maintaining its strengths and weaknesses. While it offers a few enjoyable moments, it fails to reach its full potential and falls short of being a truly remarkable sequel.