Meg 2 The Trench review: "A listless, mechanical follow-up"

Meg 2: The Trench (2023)
(Image: © Warner)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

How did a sequel with Jason Statham, three humongous sharks and a cephalopod on acid end up being so meh?

Why you can trust GamesRadar+ Our experts review games, movies and tech over countless hours, so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about our reviews policy.

Back in 2018, Jon Turteltaub’s The Meg took a $530m chomp out of the global box office with its knowing combo of campy thrills, Jason Statham’s scowl and a gigantic, prehistoric shark. High art it was not, but it made a splash regardless by delivering on its premise, embracing its silliness and giving audiences what they wanted from a late-summer guilty pleasure.

The Stath returns in Meg 2: The Trench and so does the shark, who’s joined this time by a pair of equally toothsome chums and a giant squid to boot. Missing, alas, is its predecessor’s goofy sense of fun. British director Ben Wheatley instead serves up a workmanlike platter of generic set-pieces that feel grimly filleted of jeopardy and tension. 

The Kill List and Sightseers man was an unusual hiring for this studio tentpole that piqued curiosity and generated optimism. Sadly, Meg 2 shows that even a talented filmmaker with a mordant sensibility can churn out unremarkable multiplex pablum under the wrong circumstances. 

Having saved the day and Sanya Bay from the first flick’s predatory Megalodon, Jonas Taylor (Statham) has reinvented himself as a "green James Bond" who sneaks onto cargo ships to stop polluters dumping radioactive materials overboard. Yet it doesn’t take much to persuade him to plunge back to the ocean’s floor, where illegal mining operations are endangering the habitat of the Megs and their buddies. 

With its Abyss-style scenes of frogmen in exo-suits racing against time and diminishing oxygen supplies to ascend to the surface, this part of The Trench is by far its most efficient. What follows, though, is a virtual rerun of The Meg’s second act, with Jonas on a jet-ski making sushi of the sharks while his pals (Cliff Curtis, Page Kennedy and Chinese action star Jing Wu) splice the aforementioned octopus into calamari.

Sharing the heroics between Statham and Wu results in a distinctly disjointed affair that becomes increasingly hard to follow during the frantic resort-based endgame. A joke about Jaws 2, meanwhile, merely inspires nostalgia for a time when blatant cash-ins had a touch more class. The first Meg never pretended to be anything more than a shamelessly imitative, big-fish smackdown. Yet even that low bar proves too high for this listless, mechanical follow-up.

Meg 2: The Trench is in UK and US cinemas now. For more upcoming movies, check out our guides to 2023 movie release dates.

More info

Available platformsMovie
Freelance Writer

Neil Smith is a freelance film critic who has written for several publications, including Total Film. His bylines can be found at the BBC, Film 4 Independent, Uncut Magazine, SFX Magazine, Heat Magazine, Popcorn, and more.