Movie review: 'The Meg'

Brad Keefe

There is a special art to late-summer movies. At the end of the brain-numbing, would-be-blockbuster season, you need big, dumb icing on the big, dumb cake.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present “The Meg”!

There's a range of expectations one can have about a movie featuring Jason Statham battling a giant, prehistoric shark. Academy Awards are not among them.

But getting those expectations in the right place is key to getting the most enjoyment out of “The Meg.” And there's plenty of enjoyment to be had.

Jonas Taylor (Statham) is a former deep-sea rescue specialist who has “retired” to a life of drinking on a Thai beach following a deadly undersea encounter five years prior.

But when Chinese oceanographer (backed by a wealthy businessman played by Rainn Wilson) makes a discovery at never-before-seen ocean depths, it proves to be the one thing that can bring Jonas out of retirement.

Minor spoiler alert: It's a 75-foot, prehistoric shark that could swallow Jaws whole.

So here's the first and most important thing to know about “The Meg”: It is not “Jaws,” nor is trying to be.

It's “Twister.” It's “Anaconda.” And it's a hell of a lot of fun if you're in the right mindset.

Because another movie this is not is “Snakes on a Plane,” or one of those godawful “Sharknado” whatevers. This is a big-budget movie (with a big aim at the overseas market), not self-referencing, intentional B-movie camp.

Director Jon Turteltaub (“National Treasure”) is actually pretty good at delivering a story that builds to a climax rather than trying to give you one every 20 minutes.

While I mentioned this isn't trying to be “Jaws,” there's a certain Spielberg quality in slowly revealing the titular shark, aka the Megalodon. It builds a sense of dread even as he's unpacking a story with both a large crew and a love story.

Statham is a great choice as a B-level action hero, especially against his love interest, Chinese movie star Bingbing Li. He represents the level of how seriously you should take this movie.

It delivers more than enough shark thrills that will have you alternating from dropping your jaw, laughing and applauding. This is the movie I wish “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” would have been.

Is it, you know, good? Not exactly. But it is a pitch-perfect way to wind down summer movie season.

“The Meg”

Opens Thursday

3 stars out of 5