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Meg 2: The Trench ★★★



Director: Ben Wheatley

Cast: Jason Statham, Cliff Curtis, Sienna Guillory, Skyler Samuels, Sophia Cai, Page Kennedy, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Jing Wu

Release: August 4th 2023

Not many British filmmakers have had the impact that Ben Wheatley has had on the indie/genre scene. The man behind Sightseers, A Field in England and High-Rise has always deserved more money for his projects, and after the mixed reactions to his remake of Rebecca, what was next? Then somehow, he was attached to the untitled Meg sequel; the biggest question was, did we need one?

Meg 2: The Trench reunites us with Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), who leads a research team on an exploratory dive into the ocean’s deepest depths. Their voyage spirals into chaos when an evil mining operation threatens their mission and forces them into a high-stakes battle for survival. Pitted against colossal, prehistoric sharks and relentless environmental plunderers, they must outrun, outsmart and outswim their merciless predators.

The world needed Ben Wheatley’s vision for Meg 2: The Trench; while the film won’t change the world, it’s packed with entertainment. It almost feels superior to the original when it comes to action and entertainment, but the plot holes are a bit too on the nose. Wheatley throws us directly into the action with the world of Megladons and the comforting sense of Jason Statham’s Jonas Taylor. His life has changed for the better, and he is living thrilling yet familial life. Then we spiral into a bizarre genre film with a band of misfits trying to save the world. There are odd nods to movies like Ghosts of Mars, The Chronicles of Riddick and even The Thing. Perhaps not thematically, but in the concept of a race for survival with attempts of witty banter and fun.

The true downfall of The Trench is its pacing. There is a significant focus on the human element of the narrative, and while it’s ok to flesh the characters out, there are no true arks beyond our primary cast. The villains of the piece pop up with no real motive and have no absolute conviction. Some feelings wouldn’t go amiss even in a summer popcorn flick with Megladon’s. Some scenes go too long and kill the momentum of Wheatley’s vision, but what it lacks in depth, it flourishes in action set pieces. These scenes are genuinely grippingly inventive and high-octane fun. The final jetski sequence between Statham and the Megladons was one for the ages.

There is an essence of Ben Wheatley’s talent within this film, but he never gets to go where he would like to. Working in the studio system is never easy for visionary filmmakers, and perhaps other geo-political matters toughen the job. Seeing him make such an entertaining film with Jason Statham is encouraging. The actor is having a great run of performances lately, and you can sense his joy in the potential franchise. Meg 2: The Trench is a thrill ride of an experience regardless of its failures.

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