Film Review – Meg 2: The Trench

Meg 2: The Trench

Meg 2: The Trench

Imagine you are at a talent show. One person goes up on stage to play the guitar. However, despite their best efforts, they keep messing up and hitting the wrong notes. But instead of booing them off the stage, the crowd encourages them to keep going. The performer gains confidence, and while they still can’t play well, manages to finish the song to a round of applause. Now imagine a second guitar player following them. Seeing how the crowd reacted previously, the player intentionally plays poorly, making all the same mistakes hoping to get the same result. Only this time, the crowd’s response is different. Instead of cheering the player on, they sit back coldly. The room gets so quiet one could hear a pin drop. 

Meg 2: The Trench (2023) is the second guy.

In a season full of blockbuster remakes and sequels, this comes in as one of the least inspired. This is a dull, derivative, and lackluster actioner that rips off so many other popular titles that it’s cinematic copy and paste. Sequences and plot points are taken from the likes of Predator (1987), Aliens (1986), Jurassic World (2015), and Underwater (2020) to name a few. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a film borrowing elements from other productions – that has been a practice for as long as movies have been around. The problem is that there is no creativity – no spark of imagination that lifts the material into something new and fresh. Instead, this is a drab and lifeless undertaking, as though the entire thing is operating on neutral. 


This is shocking, given that Ben Wheatley takes on the director’s chair. Say what you will in regards to his previous work, but at the very least, Kill List (2011), High-Rise (2015), and Free Fire (2016) have their own unique personalities. That is what makes Me2 such a head scratcher; because it is completely devoid of it. While I’m no fan of The Meg (2018), I could see its appeal as a big budget oddity. This sequel does not have that same luxury. Wheatley (along with screenwriters Jon HoeberErich Hoeber, and Dean Georgaris) has crafted a narrative full of drab set pieces strung together by the thinnest of plot lines. Everyone appears to be working for a paycheck and nothing more. That’s saying a lot for a movie in which Jason Statham fights a giant Megalodon shark while wielding a harpoon and driving a jet ski.

The fatal flaw is the editing, which structures events with such little flow that nothing feels like natural progression. Key characters bite the dust in what is supposed to be a moment of terror, but the editing is so erratic that death leaves no residence. People scuttle from one set piece to another, mindlessly going about the mechanics of the action. The audience is never given a chance to know these characters. We reunite with several survivors of the first film, including Jonas Taylor (Statham), Meiying (Shuya Sophia Cai), Mac (Cliff Curtis), and DJ (Page Kennedy). The group is brought back together when Jiuming Zhang (Jing Wu) – the head of the institute that first discovered the Megalodon sharks – invites them to once again explore the depths of the ocean. Jiuming hopes to learn more about (and perhaps control) the fearsome creatures. Of course, no sooner does the group submerge into the water that things go wrong and, well, I’ll leave whatever surprises there may be for your own discovery.

Look, I understand nobody really cares about logic or coherence or basic common sense when it comes to a movie like this. The most important question is: Is it entertaining? In that regard, Meg 2 comes up drastically short. Much of that disappointment is due to how poorly shot it is. The first half features the crew trying to navigate their way around the sea floor. However, the cinematography creates a murky, hazy visual aesthetic where everything is too dark. We can’t tell what is going on because the picture is so under-lit. Once again, the editing does us no favors by chopping up the visuals, creating chaos with little cohesion. In terms of visual structure, everything is off balance. Eye lines go in every direction, so that characters that are supposed to be looking at each other are edited to look like they are facing away from one another. Worst of all, for a story that promises more giant shark attacks, the first half is sorely lacking in that department. I mean, if you’re going to have bigger and badder sharks this time around, wouldn’t you want them front and center?


It’s not until the second half that the production actually remembers what this movie is supposed to be. We are made to wait for an ungodly length of time, until the crew reaches a place called – and I’m not kidding – “Fun Island.” It’s here where audiences finally get what they paid for, when the sharks finally make their presence known and all hell breaks loose. But by then, it’s too little too late. Wheatley and his team waste so much energy galavanting around the ocean floor that by the time we get to Fun Island, all the momentum has been sapped out. Granted, there are some memorable moments in this section – I particularly enjoyed the scene involving Jiuming Zhang hanging off the edge of a helicopter. But moments like that are not nearly enough to justify the two hour run time. I’m not asking that the film be smart or serious or even make sense, but can it at least fulfill all the wackiness the trailer promises? It’s unfair to have viewers wait until well over an hour to give them the movie they came to see.  

A great B-movie succeeds when its charm and entertainment value overcomes its financial limitations. A bad B-movie lacks charm regardless of budget. Meg 2: The Trench tries way too hard to win us over – as though it were begging us to like it. It takes a familiar formula and botches it, resulting in one of the more forgettable movie going experiences in recent memory. I hope everyone involved with this goes on to do better things. The sooner we all forget about this one, the better.  




Allen is a moviegoer based out of Seattle, Washington. His hobbies include dancing, playing the guitar, and, of course, watching movies.

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