Many directors have flirted with making the movie, including Jan de Bont, Guillermo del Toro and, as recently as 2015, Eli Roth. The property eventually ended up under the directorial guidance of one Jon Turtletaub, the guy who made Cool Runnings, the National Treasure movies and, wait for it, 3 Ninjas.
The result? A movie as misguided, sloppy and boring as you would expect from the guy who directed 3 Ninjas.
Let's just get the obvious problem out of the way good and early in this review. The Meg is rated PG-13, and probably could've pulled a PG. This is not a horror film. It's an undersea adventure with a big, messy CGI shark and sci-fi twist. Roth left the project because they wouldn't let him gore it up, and they wouldn't let him star as deep-sea diver/adventurer Jonas Taylor.
Instead, we get Jason Statham as Jonas, and hardly any need for makeup artists on the set due to a supreme lack of bloodletting. Heck, E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial had more bloodletting in it when Elliot pricked his finger on that saw blade. Like I said, this thing could be PG. And let's be very clear, Jaws, the mother of all shark movies (and the greatest movie ever made, thank you very much) had a SHIT TON of bloodletting, and it was PG. It also had nudity, and a constantly palpable sense of dread. Come to think of it, how the hell did Jaws get away with a PG rating? Oh, the times have changed.
When a submarine from a mega-billion underwater exploration facility goes deeper than any expedition has gone before, it gets attacked by something big and winds up trapped on the ocean floor. Enter Jonas who, in the film's prologue set years before, failed to rescue some of his friends when a big something or other also attacked and caused a mostly bloodless death toll.
Much of this movie consists of long, drawn out sequences where submarines dive around and get swatted about by a mostly unseen (at first) 70-foot shark. Other long, drawn out sequences involve Jonas and his crew floating around at sea while the CGI menace circles them. You'll be pretty damned surprised how "not" scary a 70-foot shark can be.
The rushed finale features a lot of those shots you saw in the trailer, the ones with tons of swimmers in the shark's path, including a little doggie named Pippin. (Contrary to what many believe, the black Labrador that got eaten in Jaws was not named Pippin. That dog's name was Pippet. So, the attempt at an Easter egg here is a little off.)
That trailer is very misleading; for 75 percent of this rather long movie, the shark terrorizes a very small group of people. When it finally does go after the beach goers, the vast majority of them get out of harm's way. But not the guy in the big bouncy clear ball like the one Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips uses to surf concert crowds. He gets eaten...bloodless PG style.
The movie trucks out the usual stereotypes, including Rainn Wilson as the hipster billionaire who funded the whole underwater lab thing and wears lots of Nike products. Statham himself is one big action hero stereotype. The movie also makes a few too many Jaws references. When you suck this much you shouldn't constantly remind people of a genre film far superior to yours.
If The Meg could've found a way to be as campy fun as, say, the very bloody Piranha 3D or Deep Blue Sea, I'd be looking forward to the inevitable sequel. Instead, it's just about the equivalent of the terrible Jaws 3-D. It's not as bad as Jaws: The Revenge, though. If that were the case, I wouldn't have been able to write this review, for that surely would've killed me. Bloodlessly.