“Meg 2: The Trench” Deep Dive: Jason Statham vs. Multiple Megalodons is Pure Cinema
These days, action movies are hardly lacking — you’ve got John Wick, Ethan Hunt, the Fast & Furious family, the heroes of RRR, and whoever the next James Bond will be — yet we did have one quibble; we needed more man-versus-prehistoric monster shark action. Ever since 2018’s The Meg swam into our lives, we realized there’s a certain center in our brain that seems to demand a single thing; Jason Statham fighting the biggest shark that ever lived. Period. Like the titular Megalodon, our appetite could never truly be whet. Luckily, the latest installment of The Meg franchise has arrived.
Meg 2: The Trench promises viewers an old-school summer blockbuster that leans in—way, way in—to the sublime absurdity of its premise. Before we dive into the deep end of what to expect in the sequel, it is necessary to remember and reflect on the original, now streaming on Hulu. Directed by Ben Wheatley and Jon Turteltaub, The Meg follows a group of researchers who discover a Megalodon in the depths of the ocean and attempt to resist its ferocious attacks against them.
Professional deep sea diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) opens the movie on a submarine performing a rescue mission. Amidst vibrant blues and yellows, he helps eight crew members escape from an unknown predator that only he is able to see. Folks, he’s afraid. He has every right to be afraid. What he’s seen makes the great white in Jaws look like Nemo.
For those unfamiliar with the megalodon, one thing to know is that its immensity cannot be overstated. The ancient shark could reach up to 62 feet in length and grew teeth of around 7 inches long. The Meg’s chompers, in combination with their exceptionally large jaws, were enough to easily swallow two adult people side by side. The prehistoric shark has been featured in a few other films like Jurassic Shark (2012), Megalodon (a 2018 TV movie), Megalodon Rising (2021), and The Black Demon (2023)—but it’s safe to say the Warner Bros. franchise has given the megalodon the kind of robust CGI makeover it’s never previously enjoyed.
Back to The Meg, we fast forward five years later; billionaire Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson) travels to his investment Mana One, a marine biology research facility at the Mariana Trench, where he is promised a look at their most recent discovery. Under a layer of hydrogen, the crew uncovers an entire ecosystem untouched by humanity, with hundreds of species ripe for exploration. Of course, one of these species is the bloodthirsty Megalodon, who, once unleashed, begins terrorizing everything it can get its enormous teeth on. Think Jurassic Park meets Jaws meets Cocaine Bear (the Meg wants to eat as badly as Cokey, or Pablo Escobear, wanted more cocaine.)
Though Taylor was deemed a madman and a coward after his rescue mission freakout five years prior, the leaders of the lab know they need his help if they want to survive. He reluctantly agrees, and together, the group faces off against the beasts — yes, it turns out there are two — until the Megs finally meet their demise. Or so they think.
The existence of Meg 2: The Trench means that Taylor’s job isn’t finished, and a fresh bloodbath is imminent. Taylor and his friends are in for yet another major battle against the Megalodons, only now they’re much closer to shore.
The trailer for the new film reveals what made the original so appealing; The unstoppable force of a prehistoric shark against the immovable object of Statham’s balletic grace and gruff charm. We get a clear view of just how ferocious Megalodons have been over the last 65 million years when a scar-faced Meg jumps on the shore and devours a T-Rex just thirty seconds into the new trailer. If you’re keeping score, the Meg has now mocked Jaws’s size and taken out Jurassic Park’s reigning king (not counting the beloved velociraptors or the hybrid dinosaurs that have been such monsters in the Jurassic World franchise.) In addition, the Megs have begun hunting in packs, modifying their solitary killing behaviors in the original.
Meg 2: The Trench also offers new ancient creatures coming into play, like what seems to be a Kraken (because honestly, why not) and primeval lizards. There are helicopters doing death-defying tricks, a la Mission: Impossible. There is Jason Statham riding a giant wave in a super sick jet ski. Pure. Cinema.
The Meg franchise exists to entertain. If it doesn’t quite have the existential horror of the original Jaws, which is okay. The Meg is Jaw’s roided out, utterly lunatic distant cousin. In Jaws, a simple concept like a shark attack was remolded and magnified into a Moby-Dick-like struggle with nature. Spielberg essentially gave birth to the modern summer blockbuster with little more than a wonky mechanical shark and our fear of what we can’t see (Jaws infamously made viewers nearly insane with tension without showing the actual shark all that much.) But like Jaws, The Meg and Meg 2: The Trench are best enjoyed in a group, in a theater, where our fears as almost matched by the size of the screen.
Meg 2: The Trench is in theaters now.
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Featured image: A theatrical poster for “Meg 2: The Trench.” Courtesy Warner Bros.