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FILM REVIEW: THE MEG (12A)

Despite being ‘dumbed down’ from its purported bloodthirsty ‘R-Rated’ origins to maximise on a wider demographic – this just about has enough bite to while away an entertaining couple of hours.

It does get caught between two mediums, neither being a hardcore shark-devouring-humans adult actioner or ‘tongue-in-cheek’ enough to potentially reach cult status (like a Deep Blue Sea or to a lesser extent Sharknado), the two main leads provide enough of an impact to make this (just about) a serviceable weekend popcorn-cruncher.

Those two leads are a 75-foot prehistoric shark and movie hardman Jason Statham – star of multiple action films and franchises such as The Expendables and Fast & Furious – who both play their part in this sci-fi/horror/action/drama full to the gills with familiar tropes and clichés.

Statham stars as expert sea diver and former Naval Captain Jonas Taylor, stereotypically boozing his life away in Thailand after being discredited and dishonourably discharged for letting some of his crew die after a nuclear submarine was apparently attacked by a large beast deep in the Pacific Ocean off the Philippines.

But when a three-person crew – including Taylor’s ex-wife Lori (Jessica McNamee) – go into the recesses of the Mariana Trench deep in the ocean after descending through a masking cloud of hydrogen sulfide that was previously deemed to be the sea floor, their sunken submersible is taken out by supposedly the same creature that Taylor had described years before.

This leads to the initially apprehensive Taylor joining up with an underwater research facility team (a la Deep Blue Sea) heavily-funded by billionaire Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson) – including his ex-buddy and station leader Mac (Cliff Curtis), medic-nemesis Heller (Robert Taylor), tech expert Jaxx (John Wick 2’s Ruby Rose), the initially wary-turned-love interest oceanographer Suyin Zhang (Li Bing Bing), and her amiable daughter Meiying (Shuya Sophia Cai) – to try and rescue the out-of-contact mini sub.

But as Taylor faces his demons, his worst fears literally come true as it’s revealed a massive shark, known as a Megalodon – that should have been extinct for millions of years – has survived in this unchartered zone, and has now broken through the layer of poisonous gas that has kept him a secret for so long.

And if Taylor and pals don’t soon realise ‘they’re going to need a bigger boat’ the ancient man-eater will quickly descend on the crowded waters of China’s Sanya Bay to chomp away on unsuspecting beachgoers.

But sadly the shark versus swimmers scenes featured so heavily in the trailers – there’s no Megalodon chasing down a surfer through the darkness of the waves for example – only appear for less than five minutes and have seemingly hit the cutting-room floor to make it a more money-spinning ‘12A’ feature.

What we do have instead are adequate, if not exactly ingenious, action sequences that are mainly confined to Taylor’s squad in boats and gliding subs, that provide satisfactory set-pieces that at least take the impressive computer-generated mega shark well above Sharknado-quality territory.

Statham flexes his muscles, and the rest of the crew uninspiringly do what’s required, but with it missing a comedic edge and distinct lack of blood and guts, The Meg paddles more than it swims as it falls short of being fin-tastic.

Fortunately the sheer presence of the mammoth creature does enough to pull it through, despite it seeming like a bit of a missed opportunity had it gone down a more graphically blood-laden route that was initially intended.

Which leaves it a million miles away from taking a bite out of Jaws – but giving just enough to get your teeth into… 

Rating: 3/5

Gavin Miller

Cast: Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, Page Kennedy, Robert Taylor, Jessica Mcnamee, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Shuya Sophia Cai & Masi Oka

Running Time: 1 Hr 53 Mins

Director: Jon Turteltaub

 

Visit www.showcasecinemas.co.uk for the latest up-to-date showtimes for movies at Showcase Cinema de Lux Peterborough. You can also join the chat on Twitter @showcasecinemas or on Facebook by searching for ‘Showcase Cinemas UK’.

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