With more references to the "Jaws" films than you can imagine and a tongue very far in cheek, MEG 2: THE TRENCH delivers plenty of laughs along with adventure.
I loved the brainless original back in 2018 and the sequel takes crazy to whole new level, mashing up everything from "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" to "Predator" to the horrific "Jaws 4: The Revenge".
As the film opens, our ecological OO7 Jonas Taylor (the always enjoyable Jason Statham) is taking down a massive tanker dumping radioactive waste into the ocean.
Soon, we're whisked off to a science facility where the only Meg in captivity swims idly past a swanky fundraising event for the research institute that Jonas and team work for. Jiuming (Jing Wu) is the lead scientist who's not only formed a bond with the Meg (think Chris Pratt and Blue and you're in the right ballpark) but he's about to lead them down through the thermal layer of the Mariana Trench in search of discovery.
Their new submersibles are built for 30,000 ft, armed with all sorts of defenses against unknown creatures and as soon as they dip in the water, we all know they're making a big mistake. If you don't know it, don't worry, the music score will let you know.
I expected a brief excursion on the bottom, just enough to open some sort of portal for the big-ass creatures to make their way to civilization, but the entire center of the film is quite a bit more ambitious in "Captain Nemo and his crew stomping around the ocean floor in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" style.
Of course the underwater suits our folks have are a lot better than those old models with the giant, round iron helmets.
New adversaries both human and creature are discovered at a fast pace and if you can put your brain on hold, it's a hell of a lot of fun in a Saturday Matinee Action Flick torrent of thrills.
Statham is loaded with one-liners and ass-kicking action scenes and the crew around him is a lot better than I expected. Cliff Curtis (Doctor Sleep, Avatar: The Way of Water) is Mac, the perfect wing man as the adventures unfold and the hilarious Page Kennedy is back as DJ, who has brought a lot more skills and swag to the party then he did in the original.
I could have done without the whole "the 14 year old daughter of my former girlfriend/Jiuming's niece is going to stowaway on the submersible" story line. This kid is like the character that runs into a haunted house that's collapsing before your eyes to rescue their dog. Once is dumb enough, but she makes about a dozen decisions so stupid that I was wishing something huge would eat her alive. Soon.
And if it had, it would have looked good. The special effects are fun and the creatures are impressive. There are a couple of hilarious shots from inside one Meg's mouth as it ate dozens of people at a secluded resort in the Philippines. Considering most of the guests appear to be influencers and obnoxious tourists, it gets hard not to cheer for the Megs.
The final 30 minutes is a dizzying, laugh-out-loud mash up of madness. There's a send up of "Predator" in which a character actually yells "Get to the chopper!" and machine guns tear up the jungle. Jonas rides around on a jet ski screaming at the Megs like Ishamel (if he'd had a lot better weapons). A giant squid the size of a building sets up shop at Club Med and every propane tank on the island seems to have a target on it.
Statham even manages to kill a Meg in a total send up of the legendarily bad ending of "Jaws 4". I was waiting for Michael Caine to emerge dryly from the ocean and start clapping.
I laughed frequently and smiled the whole time.
The filmmakers clearly have their tongue firmly in cheek, deftly sending up the very genre they're portraying. Even Statham seems to laugh more in this than every other film he's ever made. As a producer, I think he was clearly in on the joke and that IS him on those jetskis for that entire sequence, no stunt people, thank you.
Already grossing $265 million against a $135m budget, MEG 2 is well on the way to being deemed a hit.
Pure camp mixed with knowing fun and an off-the-rails final act, MEG 2: THE TRENCH bites, swims and battles its way to a fun B-. And that's appropriate because it's the definition of a Summer B-Movie creature feature.