Meg 2: The Trench arrives in theatres five years after Jason Statham first fought a massive shark, promising a sequel that is greater in every way. There are more underwater creatures, bigger stakes, and more outrageous action set pieces than in The Meg. However, more significant isn’t always better, as Meg 2: The Trench makes some of the same faults that earned The Meg such a dismal critical review.
Six years after the events of the previous film, Meg 2: The Trench takes up. Following the finding of megalodons beneath the thermocline at the ocean floor by the Oceanography Centre of Hainan, the scientists involved in the discovery were charged with expanding their study on the strange trench.
Of course, because megalodons remain a menace, the Mana One research center has invested in developing submarines that can release electrical charges and exoskeletons that allow divers to go 25 thousand feet into the water. The Hainan Center has even nurtured a baby megalodon to research the creature’s behavior and improve human understanding of the secrets hidden in the ocean’s unknown areas.
Statham’s Jonas Taylor has thoroughly embraced his role as the father of Meiying Zhang (Sophia Cai), now a rebellious 14-year-old keen to explore the trench in the sequel. Suyin Zhang (Li Bingbing), Meiying’s mother, was written out of the sequel, thus Jonas now shares parental responsibilities with Meiying’s uncle, Jiuming (Wu Jing), who has taken over the research center.
While Jiuming is not the action hero Jonas is, he is introduced as a co-protagonist in the sequel, contrasting Statham’s gloomy disposition with a perpetual smile. Meg 2: The Trench includes a troop of mercenaries led by Montes (Sergio Peris-Mencheta), a villain with links to Jonas, and some support for the good people.
The additional components included in Meg 2: The Trench aim to deepen the universe of the original film and ensure director Ben Wheatley has enough wiggle room to pursue a third installment. Unfortunately, all of the technical and human enhancements bloat the film, resulting in a plot that stretches too thin in too many ways at once. While Wheatley is more able than The Meg’s director Jon Turteltaub to execute the thrills of the franchise’s horror-focused passages, Meg 2: The Trench suffers from a complex final act that bores more than it excites.
Meg 2: The Trench, like the original film, devotes the first half of its 116-minute runtime to sequences that are short on action but packed with oceanic terrors. The idea of megalodons swimming freely on the ocean floor is terrifying, as a grim reminder that the deep seas remain unexplored. The existence of sea monsters has haunted our nightmares for millennia since the unknown is a vast source of terror. The Meg 2 uses that fear to produce adrenaline-pumping chase sequences in which Jonas and his pals must outwit a predator they don’t completely comprehend.
Their world has altered dramatically since the previous film, and the Mana One crew is now more accustomed to coping with megalodons. To instill terror in their hearts, Wheatley descends farther down the trench, introducing more animals and scenarios to torture Jonas. The absence of natural light in the trench might make it difficult for spectators to follow the assaults of these new monsters. At the same time, the lack of vision heightens the protagonists’ predicament, heightening the suspense of Meg 2: The Trench’s horror-based passages.
Without giving anything away, the script by Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, and Dean Georgaris provides the perfect excuse to explore the dark alien world of the trench, and Wheatley takes advantage of the opportunity to show how fantastic this franchise could be if it kept to horror. However, Meg 2: The Trench goes all-in for the finale, which is the sequel’s weakest link.
Because of the inclusion of human foes, Meg 2: The Trench makes extensive use of Statham’s long career as a martial artist to generate several fistfights that are meant to be exciting. Unfortunately, Wheatley’s close-up framing of these sequences, along with some over-editing, renders most of the action dull and challenging to follow. That only worsens in the film’s sprawling final act, when heroes, mercenary villains, and marine animals collide. Unfortunately, Meg 2: The Trench repeats the mistake of the original film’s shark-punching extravaganza by failing to embrace the campiness of its theme and instead attempting to make it serious.
The sequel goes beyond numerous loose ends to wrap up a spectacular conclusion. During Jonas’ last battle with the megalodons, Meg 2: The Trench must find something for every side character to do, disclose the destiny of the human antagonists, and still allow the monsters to wreak enough destruction for the spectator to comprehend their destructive force. What follows is an excessively extended action scenario in which the spectator is asked to focus on too many concurrent and interwoven subplots.
To make matters worse, Meg 2: The Trench has some of the most inept human antagonists in recent memory. Nobody expects a franchise that fails to give its protagonists a sense of depth to do better with its enemies. Nonetheless, Montes and his business associates are startlingly poorly written, detracting from each scene they appear. As a result, their heightened presence in the third act only serves to detract from the man vs beast spectacle.
Having said that, Meg 2: The Trench includes some amusing moments, such as Statham jousting against megalodon sharks. The scenario makes you wonder why the sequel is still attempting to invest in a blockbuster action setting when it would fare far better as pure horror or a horror comedy. Finally, Meg 2: The Trench isn’t anything that different from the previous entry in the saga, for better or worse.