Se­crets of a shark tale

Ja­son Statham on how to stage the ul­ti­mate beast vs man show­down in The Meg

Empire (Australasia) - - Preview - 23 AU­GUST AN­DREW LOWRY

THE MAK­ERS OF Deep Blue Sea may have thought they had turned in the per­fect shark-schlock movie — but this year, there’s a new fish in the sea. The Meg, from Na­tional Trea­sure helmer Jon Turteltaub, is set to make a play for the crown, and the ace up its sleeve is the mega­lodon of the ti­tle: a pre­his­toric su­per­shark that didn’t get the memo when all its mates went ex­tinct.

Luck­ily, hu­man­ity has a pretty solid backer in its cor­ner in the shape of Ja­son Statham, whose pres­ence adds to the feel­ing that gritty re­al­ism may not be the goal here. So, what’s the recipe for 2018’s most an­tic­i­pated B movie? SUPERSIZE IT

“I mean, who doesn’t want to watch a film about the big­gest shark that’s ever ex­isted?” says Statham. A pre­his­toric 60-foot shark might seem far fetched — and in fact is — but Turteltaub is keen to point out there’s a cred­i­ble ex­pla­na­tion for the mega­lodon stick­ing around. “Think of it as a blind al­ley of evo­lu­tion,” says the di­rec­tor. “Our fish found a haven in the un­ex­plored ocean, and has only just been dis­turbed af­ter all this time.” KEEP IT PER­SONAL

“I play a for­mer navy cap­tain and diver,” Statham tells Em­pire, “and I get hired to res­cue a team of sci­en­tists who are trapped at the bot­tom of the sea in their re­search sta­tion by this gi­ant shark.” Prob­lem is, his ex-wife is down there too: “Then all hell breaks loose.” Even bet­ter, Statham’s char­ac­ter, Cap­tain Jonas Tay­lor, sur­vived a pre­vi­ous en­counter with the mon­ster, only for no­body to be­lieve him. PICK THE RIGHT TEAM Man can­not face shark alone, and the di­verse cast packs the Chi­nese re­search team with sup­port from around the world, in­clud­ing Ruby Rose, Rainn Wil­son, Li Bing­bing, Cliff Cur­tis and Ola­fur Darri Olaf­s­son. “We were all do­ing so many stunts, it was like com­ing to work to be beaten up ev­ery day,” says Rose. TAKE IT SE­RI­OUSLY

Bar­rie M. Os­borne (pro­ducer be­hind

The Lord Of The Rings) is keen to show Em­pire the elab­o­rate de­signs for the un­der­wa­ter habi­tat where our he­roes find them­selves. “The key here is to re­ally sell the cred­i­bil­ity of the tech­nol­ogy and en­vi­ron­ments,” he says, “so that way, you re­ally feel their fear.” …BUT NOT TOO SE­RI­OUSLY Rainn Wil­son is un­der no il­lu­sions about the film he’s in. “I play a bil­lion­aire who may or may not be trust­wor­thy, and who may or may not get him­self eaten by a fish the length of a foot­ball field,” he dead­pans. “We’re not talk­ing about un­der­play­ing this one.”

LET THE STATH LOOSE

Af­ter his newly heroic turn in Fast And Fu­ri­ous 8, Statham’s star has never been higher. There’s only one ques­tion re­main­ing: does he punch the shark? “I can’t tell you that,” he says. Which, you’ll no­tice, is not a “no”.

THE MEG IS IN CIN­E­MAS FROM

Ja­son Statham was bounc­ing on his chair in ex­cite­ment while speak­ing to Em­pire in Novem­ber 2016 Clock­wise Jaws breaker: from Ja­son above: Statham (as Cap­tain Jonas Tay­lor) meets his great­est foe yet, a 70-foot pre­his­toric shark called The Meg; Li Bing­bing joins forces with Statham as Suyin.

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