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'The Meg' Review: Jason Statham can't save defective shark thriller

The Meg is a trite and stereotypical mess that is often too silly and predictable for its own good.
Warner Brothers Pictures

Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) doesn't just live in the past; his mind swims around in it constantly. He once captained a rescue mission to the depths of the sea but made a tough choice in the end that cost two people their lives. The reasoning he gave his superiors was a larger-than-life shark called the Megalodon would have killed them all if he didn't cut and run when he did. When he is dragged back for one more rescue mission against the great white on steroids, his past collides with his future.

Snooze. Are you asleep yet?

Here's the thing. I have an idea what Jon Turtletaub wanted to do with his latest feature, The Meg. An action-adventure flick with a sense of humor that would harken back to the simple-minded pleasures of the 80s. A lovable B-movie with some soul. You have a driver like Statham that can push almost any screenplay trash home, and the money should be in the bank, right? Wrong.

The Meg is a trite and stereotypical mess that is often too silly and predictable for its own good. Worst of all, it's not even that funny. Rainn Wilson tries to create a few laughs, but his businessman who finances the research vessel that floats directly over the killer shark is so deplorable that you don't laugh that much.

The wooden cast of types is filled out conveniently. The older doc who doesn't trust Taylor (Robert Taylor), the brave yet not battle-tested Suyin (BingBing Li), the captain/leader who loves taking risks (Winston Chao), and Taylor's best friend who will follow him anywhere (Cliff Curtis). How about the hot computer tech who always has perfect hair in Ruby Rose? Check. Throw in a little girl who forms a quick bond with Taylor and the tired roster is complete.

Does Taylor flirt with Suyin? You bet. Does he only smile when talking to the little girl? Yes. Does he often look overly serious and doesn't have to worry about shaving? Yes.

I love Statham, because he's a tireless action hero who easily convinces, but even he doesn't have much to do here. He can look as stoic as a boulder in the cold, but it's not enough to lift this piece of average entertainment up. The minute he shows up, you can draw a picture of how he is. Weary, moody, fearless, and only bonds with kids who constantly put themselves in harms way. It's a well-known blueprint.

You know some of the crew is going to die, and it's not hard to guess which ones. The screenwriters, all three of them, probably passed around the laptop while watching Jaws and the sequels while under the influence of drugs or some kind of alcoholic beverage.

It's all-too-predictable, and that would be fine if there was some hint of charm or true comedic flair to make it seem unique in even the smallest way. Everything happens as if the filmmaker was scanning a check sheet instead of drawing up a new path.

The special effects are decent, especially the shark. They make this 20-meteor long shark seem fairly realistic in most spots, and during the final battle, it delivers some true shocking moments. Ones that can be enjoyed at home for less than $3.

Save this one for a night where you are sick, have a cheap frozen pizza ready, and a willing friend to soak up some trashy action with. If you spend more than $10 on this flick, you'll be disappointed.

The trailers hyped this up as Jason Statham versus Jaws with a quirky light touch, even using classical music in the preview. While that promise wasn't exactly false, the execution wasn't there.

In the end, I believe The Meg had a plan, but it simply couldn't deliver on it.