Usually it’s a good thing when something meets your expectations. However, I went into The Meg 2: The Trench with expectations as low as the trench in the film’s title, hoping to be pleasantly surprised with a decent quality horror movie. Unfortunately, my subaquatic expectations were just about matched. While it wasn’t a HORRIBLE film, it certainly left a lot to be desired.
I haven’t re-watched The Meg since it originally came out in 2018, so my memory of that movie’s specifics is foggy at best; therefore, I can’t reliably comment on how the sequel does as a follow-up to the first movie. I can confidently say, however, that the plot is disjointed and the story is poorly paced. The film sets itself up to be about a harrowing journey to the bottom of a trench (it’s even in the title) and back, but this plot point actually just barely takes up the first half of the movie. For as treacherous as the crew’s descent was, their quick return to the surface is anticlimactic. It feels more like two shorter films screened side by side than one coherent movie.
Jason Statham delivers a hardy action hero as per usual, and Page Kennedy’s character is a delightful comedic relief. The rest of the cast’s performance is so sub-par, however, that the terrible acting is one of the things that stuck out to me the most about this movie. For example, Sienna Guillory’s acting was laughably bad to the point that I couldn’t take a single thing she said seriously. I guess the money that could have gone towards acting lessons for the cast—or hiring talented actors in the first place—all went towards the CGI, which I would almost be okay with if we got to see more of the sea monsters than we ultimately did. (Side note: I was greatly surprised to find out that Rigas (pictured above) was not played by Wynonna Earp‘s Melanie Scrofano. I spent the whole movie thinking it was her, but the actress is actually Melissanthi Mahut. Nobody I’ve said this to sees the resemblance, though).
I watched this movie for one thing and one thing only: big sharks. One of the scientists in this film has domesticated a megalodon that he raised from a pup, so I thought we would have lots of chances to see her. This young megalodon, named Haiqi, escapes from captivity early on to join her fellow megs at the bottom of the sea, which I was super excited about because that meant we would see more big sharks! But this doesn’t end up being the case. We get a few glimpses of the older megs, but not much more than that. We hardly even see the domesticated meg after she escapes, even though it seemed as though she would be a main focal point of the film. There are a handful of deaths, none of which are particularly gruesome. I know a PG-13 rating bars the film from getting too gory, but we barely even see any blood. Plus, a majority of the deaths are caused by things other than the megalodons. What’s the point of calling the film The Meg if the meg isn’t even the biggest threat? One of the kills that left the biggest impression on me was more comedic than frightening, and nearly all of the intended jump scares were predictable. I expected to leave this movie terrified of the ocean or at least awestruck by the thought of what may lurk far beneath the waves, but I still want to go to the beach just as much as ever.
Okay, I know most people don’t go into monster movies expecting them to be scientifically accurate, but the frequent dismissal of scientific possibility in The Meg 2 notably bothered me. It’s not totally farfetched to speculate that megalodons might still exist somewhere deep in the unexplored trenches of the ocean, seeing as they are no more than gigantic sharks and sharks, being the apex predators of the ocean, have barely changed over millions of years of evolution. I have a much harder time, however, believing in the possibility of the little semiaquatic reptiles surviving this long. Specifically, it’s extremely improbable that after hiding on the ocean floor for millions of years, these creatures were able to immediately re-adapt to life on land. They are presented as an undiscovered species (nobody offers a name for the creatures, whereas if a t-rex had appeared, someone would definitely be able to identify it), so this was probably their first time returning to land in large numbers since the dawn of humanity. How did they still have the ability to breathe on land if they hadn’t left the water for millennia? This ability should have disappeared after years of disuse; that’s how evolution works. Plus, the drastic change in temperature, as well as the lack of moisture, would have been a major shock to their systems. Speaking of un-survivable environments, with the failed Ocean Gate excursion fresh on the world’s mind, a mission to the bottom of the ocean is very topical. The deep sea pressure leads to the demise of one crew member, but another is somehow able to keep their head from exploding by readjusting their sinuses. Huh? If such a miraculous breathing technique existed, I don’t understand why they didn’t suggest that the other crew member try it before they removed their helmet and immediately perished. Regardless, this detail is absurd, and the underwater pressure should by all means have killed the second character too.
The Meg 2: The Trench is an overall unimpressive film with too much poor acting and not enough sharks. It leans far more into the “fi” of sci-fi as far as the science is concerned, and wasn’t even scary enough to really be worthy of being called a horror movie. It was entertaining enough, and I didn’t despise it, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. The character Rigas casually tosses out a line at the end of the movie that could potentially hint at a third film, and it is performing decently at the box office (especially overseas), but unless they plan on upping the shark screentime, I’m not interested in seeing this series become a trilogy.