The Meg (PG-13)

Action/Adventure 113 min. August 10, 2018
By Alan Scherstuhl
For most of The Meg, Jon Turteltaub’s dino-shark thriller goof, the badass hero played by Jason Statham blithely achieves the impossible. Here’s a dude who rides on the side of history’s largest shark like some alpha-male lamprey, jabbing a spear at its eye and not losing his face mask. But between these feats, the plot demands he sometimes find himself briefly helpless. He can’t save everyone, so people die.

What’s never clear is why. The Meg is a curious hybrid. It’s a studio monster-thriller that’s funnier than many studio comedies, often intentionally. It’s a hero-dude adventure movie based on a Michael Crichton–esque paperback techno-thriller, which means we hear more science talk than is strictly necessary, get a tour of a gleaming research facility and meet a billionaire funder (Rainn Wilson) who just might have ulterior motives. But that’s where it gets tricky. The script, like Steve Alten’s book, is concerned with that key selling point of paperback techno-thrillers: the appearance of plausibility.

Of course Jonas couldn’t save everyone off a nuclear sub that’s being rammed by a shark the size of the Chrysler Building. The problem is that Turteltaub (Rush Hour, the National Treasure films) hasn’t made a techno-thriller. He’s making a Jason Statham fish-punch fantasy, part parody and part thrill ride, a film utterly defiant of even paperback plausibility. The Meg is so full of last-minute saves and over-the-top heroics that when he pragmatically leaves some characters to die, Jonas seems to have forgotten what kind of movie he’s in. It’s like someone’s yanked the controller away from the video-game player, or if one of the Fast and Furious gearheads suddenly quit with the declaration, “Cars can’t do that!”
John Turtletaub Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, Page Kennedy, Jessica McNamee, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Robert Taylor, Cliff Curtis Dean Georgaris and Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber Warner Bros.

Showtimes

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