For all intents and purposes, Jon Turteltaub’s “The Meg” is just a fun ride. Action hero extraordinaire Jason Statham (“Lock, Stock and “Two Smoking Barrels,” “The Transporter”) is Jonas Taylor, a deep sea rescue operative who encounters a megalodon, a sea creature once thought to be extinct. It is 75 feet long and has a plethora of teeth in its huge jaws.
“The Meg” is very tongue-in-cheek and the events that occur are not to be taken too seriously. Sure, some of the characters die, but it is done with purpose to advance the storyline
Rainn Wilson is Morris, a wealthy industrialist whose operation is funding a giant laboratory in the middle of the ocean. Aiding in this story is Bingbing Li’s Suyin, a single mother whose daughter Meiying (Shuya Sophia Cai) accompanies her aboard the ship that serves as a way station for the crew.
Also on board is Suyin’s father, Zhang (Winston Chao). He is a scientist who specializes in marine life. Cliff Curtis’s Mac is an old friend of Taylor’s from back in the day when the pair worked together. Ruby Rose plays Jaxx, a wizard with technology who can make things work with the push of a button.
Meiying hams it up with silly faces that amuse since she knows they are goofy.
“The Meg,” like Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” (1975), is a complete work of fiction. It is based on the novel by author Steve Alten, who also wrote a couple of follow-ups including “The Trench,” “Primal Waters” and “Hell’s Aquarium.” This movie, like the fun adventures in Stephen Sommers’ ocean-liner yarn “Deep Rising,” just leaves you smiling about the ridiculous events.
What I admire about Turteltaub is that he shoots for the big screen. Early in his career, he made small films. “3 Ninjas” (1992), “Cool Runnings” (1993) and “While You Were Sleeping” (1995) were not made with the big screen in mind. Later on, with “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (2010) and a pair of “National Treasure” movies (2004 and 2007) under his belt, he shifted to the widescreen treatment meant for a theatrical experience.
I met Turteltaub in Dallas for “Instinct,” a movie he directed featuring Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding Jr. That one was also shot in “scope,” or widescreen format. I saw “The Meg” on the giant 70mm IMAX screen at NorthPark Center. Despite the shenanigans that occur onscreen, “The Meg” is still worth the theater experience. The perfect escape movie, “The Meg” does what it’s supposed to do and just entertains the audience for a couple of hours while they try to escape the real world.