When this summer began, I did not expect to like the giant shark movie more than the giant dinosaur movie, but here we are. The Meg succeeds because it knows exactly what it is and doesn't try to be more than that. If that sounds like a low bar, it's not exactly. This is leagues better than the Sharknado franchise, and not just because this has a bigger budget, better actors and decent writing. It's exactly as absurd as it needs to be without going too far outside the realm of the possible.
Jason Statham plays Jonas, a rescue diver called out of retirement to save an expedition crew trapped at the bottom of the ocean after their ship was attacked by... something. In a rare occurrence, he's called on for his intelligence and not just his brawn. After saving the group, they learn they've unleashed a megalodon, which typically stayed closer to the ocean floor. But now it's out and hungry for blood.
And so, like Jaws or any other big fish movie, the shark is hunting everything, not just other marine life to feed. Of course this isn't how things go in real life. Sharks are dangerous, but rarely come near humans, let alone attack them.
But The Meg also works because it's got a truly international cast, in a way that doesn't feel mandated by its U.S.-Chinese co-production status. This is a good band of professionals movie, each with their own personality quirks. But their chemistry doesn't mean they should all be out on a smaller boat where they're more likely to get eaten. That's just a ploy for a higher body count, which the movie doesn't really need.
It also doesn't need Statham to be haunted by the people he couldn't save on his previous rescue mission, or at least the idea that his character is cowardly. It's simply not believable. It's an extra, unnecessary character beat. The movie is better off when it's paying tribute to Jaws, The Abyss and even Finding Nemo.
The Meg is big, dumb summer fun in a season that's been filled with big movies and dumb movies, but this one does big and dumb properly.