The Meg 2: The Trench, Ben Wheatley’s long-awaited sequel to The Meg (2018), hit theaters last week to mixed reviews. Its Rotten Tomatoes audience score is sitting at 72%, with responses from the critics generally more negative. I’m with the audience on this one! While Meg 2 has a slow first act, it gains momentum toward the end and winds up being a riotous delight.

Jason Statham dives into the trench.

Following the first film’s events, Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) defeats armed mercenaries, lasers through shipping containers, and jumps off cargo ships, all in the name of global environmental justice. He’s simultaneously co-parenting and working with Mana One to explore the unknown depths of the Mariana Trench. Jonas Taylor is a busy dude! 

When his team uncovers a plot to exploit the trench’s natural resources for profit, they must fight for their lives against the terrors of the deep that have been unleashed. And it’s not just one giant shark. This time, our heroes must face three megs, a fleet of bloodthirsty lizards, and a Kraken. But nothing can stop our not-so-ragtag group of non-misfits, not even the deadliest deep-sea danger of all time!

Too much time is spent underwater.

The corporate corruption plot is humdrum and goes on way too long when we have megalodon madness to attend to! The characters should be tossing around zingy one-liners and bad shark puns and engaging in far wittier repartee than we get. Wheatley is known for his wickedly dark sense of humor, but here the laughs are rare unless they’re in reaction to the outlandishness of it all.  

Outlandish it is, but incredibly, Meg 2 felt too restrained. Even though Statham delivers steely Jonas Taylor and Jing Wu charms as reckless entrepreneur Jiuming Zhang, the entire cast gets bogged down in the movie’s tedious plotting, clunky dialogue, and uninspired action sequences. If you’re going to join the pantheon of sharksploitation, you need to really let loose with the gnashing of teeth.

When sharks attack, audiences come back.

Not that Meg 2 needs any help selling it. What the movie loses in terms of plot intrigue, it makes up for in shark shenanigans. Any time Jonas faces off against one or more Megs, you’re in for some wildly absurd and entertaining visuals. There’s a brilliant single shot of the meg chomping down victims filmed from inside the creature, highlighting the iconic set of jaws in slapstick fashion.

There’s a scene where Zhang calms a charging meg using a training signal, like Chris Pratt doing his magic hands to chill the raptors in Jurassic World (2015). But Zhang’s Prattkeeping is funnier because it embraces its silliness and elevates the training method to mega proportions. I wish the whole movie had been so committed to being goofy!

Meg 2 is sloppy but worth it.

At one point in Meg 2, a character asks the titular shark, “Do you miss your mom, big fish?” If you take “mom” to symbolize the first movie, the critics would answer “yes.” But I say, grab some beers with friends, if that’s your thing, and enjoy an evening of the most fun you can have with multiple Megs. 

Personally, I can’t wait for the Meg 3, which is sure to feature an even bigger and deadlier meg. And I can’t wait to flock to theaters for it. Because it’s fun, it makes us laugh, and it helps us recognize that our fear of these animals might be outsized, like the Meg itself.