THE MEG

All shark and no bite…

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Statham’s lat­est is in our re­viewer’s jaws.

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f irst, the bad news: Ja­son Statham does not punch a 70ft pre­his­toric shark. A missed op­por­tu­nity, for sure. But it’s no spoiler to say The Stath does go mano a mano with the dead­li­est preda­tor Earth has known, and the re­sults are a riot. Alas, by then, the shark’s been well and truly jumped.

Walk­ing a fine line be­tween tongue-in-cheek monster movie and Asy­lum pro­duc­tion (one with a tent­pole bud­get), The Meg sees deep-sea res­cue diver Jonas Tay­lor (Statham) team up with an eclec­tic group of sci­en­tists sta­tioned at re­search fa­cil­ity Mana One. There, they ac­ci­den­tally stum­ble across the tooth­some ter­ror’s hunt­ing grounds while at never-ex­plored depths of the Mar­i­ana Trench. Cer­Tifi­CaTe 12A Di­reC­Tor Jon Turteltaub STar­ring Ja­son Statham, Li Bing­bing, Rainn Wil­son SCreenplay Dean geor­garis, Jon Hoe­ber, erich Hoe­ber DiS­Trib­u­Tor Warner Bros run­ning Time 113 mins

The open­ing section, both need­lessly long and crim­i­nally Meg-less, is a bit of a slog, mak­ing a meal of in­tro­duc­ing each ar­che­typal mem­ber of the sci­ence team sur­round­ing Jonas. There’s love in­ter­est Suyin (Li Bing­bing), techie-with-’tude Jaxx (Ruby Rose) and ret­ro­grade comic re­lief DJ (Page Kennedy). But once the gar­gan­tuan fish fi­nally makes an en­trance, the film finds its sea legs.

Jonas, a lu­di­crously heroic and fear­lessly ca­pa­ble man of ac­tion, takes point on a se­ries of high-risk mis­sions, swim­ming solo into Meg-infested wa­ters and har­poon­ing a tracker on her fin be­fore es­cap­ing as five rows of eight-inch teeth nip at his flip­pers. Di­rec­tor Jon Turteltaub (Na­tional Trea­sure) wrings these se­quences for ev­ery morsel of ten­sion, even if gen­uine scares are few and far be­tween.

It’s in densely pop­u­lated beach re­sort Sanya Bay that The Meg is at its out­ra­geous best – adorable ter­ri­ers, lolly-suck­ing ado­les­cents and both­er­some zor­bers are all tan­ta­lis­ing morsels for the shark to de­vour.

Yet the bulk of the film’s mid-section, bizarrely, is staged in the mid­dle of the ocean, where the beast looks like a wind-up great white in the bath against the end­less ex­panse of blue.

Di­a­logue swings be­tween per­func­tory and un­in­ten­tion­ally hi­lar­i­ous (“That living fos­sil ate my friend!”). Only a hand­ful of the cast seem in on the joke, in­clud­ing Rainn Wil­son, who gnashes the scenery as the ob­nox­ious bil­lion­aire bankrolling the op­er­a­tion. Af­ter prov­ing his comic chops in Spy, The Stath’s self-aware­ness is left on dry land as he lets his iron pecs loose in the year’s most gra­tu­itous shirt­less scene. A lit­tle more depth wouldn’t have gone amiss.

With tooth­less FX that make you won­der where the film’s re­ported $150 mil­lion bud­get went, The Meg falls firmly into the ‘so bad it’s good’ camp of sum­mer movies. If that floats your boat, open wide. Any­one look­ing for more meat on the bone should stay out of the wa­ter. Jor­dan Far­ley

the VeR­diCt

Living up to its billing as the most ridicu­lous film of the sum­mer, it’s in­stantly for­get­table, un­de­ni­ably fun.

Hav­ing The Stath hum the Jaws theme tune mid-res­cue wasn’t help­ing her nerves…

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