Reviews of Films I Haven’t Seen – The Meg 2: The Trench

It’s especially delicious to review a sequel I’ve never seen, having never watched the original film, either. Why miss one movie when you can skip two? In this case, I want to talk about The Meg 2: The Trench, the follow up to 2018’s hit thriller, The Meg. The “Meg” in this case is a Megalodon, an enormous shark species that roamed the earth’s oceans tens of millions of years ago and was thought to be extinct… until nosy human beings disturbed its deep-sea lair in the first movie. Now, those humans are back, invading the ultra-deep trench where the Megs live, and the Megs are hungry.

The Meg 2, is, per Variety, a “Jason Statham-led shark thriller.” The shark thriller is now apparently a genre unto itself. And so it should be. These two films do appear to be money machines, with a combined gross that’s rapidly closing in on a billion dollars.

My first reaction upon seeing the trailer for The Meg 2 was to recall a joke told by Bette Midler, whose comedic talents have long been underappreciated. She once told an audience, “I’m set to star in Jaws V, where a shark is attacked by a great white woman.”

Indeed, it’s tempting to dismiss The Meg and The Meg 2 as warmed over redos of Jaws: Ravenous shark plus tasty human equals audience stampede. That approach, though, does a disservice to both series of films. Jaws was the original shark thriller, but its plot delivered more than just thrills and chills. The film blended Moby Dick with Henrik Ibsen’s 1882 play, An Enemy of the People. The play told the story of a man, whom we would now call a “whistleblower,” who was destroyed when he revealed a truth about his city that caused its economic ruin.

The Meg 2 does not appear to concern itself with such high-minded ideas. It’s a thriller, a movie concerned almost entirely with entertaining you with adrenaline-fueled chases and harrowing suspense. The Meg 2 deserves respect for its commitment to delivering thrills.

Which is not to say the film lacks symbolism and messages about ideas greater than whether Megs like their humans raw or sauteed. For the non-obtuse, the film’s depiction of abnormal fauna in the ocean is an allusion to the looming climate disaster, which is manifesting in the world’s oceans at this very moment. All sorts of catastrophes are bubbling up out of the depths, and humans better get ready for some major disruptions.

Jason Statham’s character, too, represents another prehistoric figure that seems to have disappeared from the landscape, at least in the US. He’s a man’s man, a brave, strong man who fights physical and moral fights because he knows the difference between right and wrong. Wow, how that kind of human seems to have gone extinct in America these days. In this nation of whiny cowards, a film like this allows us to pay hypocritical homage to the kind of Americans we used to be. Plus, he’s in shape. A brief trip to the mall or the beach will show you how rare that is, these days, too.

Going a little further, I think The Meg 2 is offering the audience a venue for worrying about American politics and the future of American society. These days, it seems that all sorts of allegedly extinct monsters (e.g., racism, medieval misogyny, puritanical homophobia, etc.) are emerging from concealed hiding places in the depths of our societal consciousness and roaring back into our lives, devouring innocent people along the way.

The image of this bloated, bloodthirsty monster, sprung loose and on an unstoppable rampage also resonates, at least in my mind, with a certain someone we’ve been forced to deal with for almost a decade now. If the megalodon had a bad blond combover and a corrupt Super PAC, it would make perfect sense. We’re all terrified of this monster, but we needn’t be. If we can channel our inner Jason Stathams to fight back, I think we can send him back into that deep hole where he belongs.