The prehistoric shark is back and bigger than ever in Meg 2: The Trench, the action-packed sequel to the 2018 sci-fi hit. Jason Statham returns as deep sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor, putting his life on the line once more to save humanity from the menacing megalodon shark. Five years after the underwater battles of the first film, Meg 2 takes the stakes even higher as Jonas confronts even more monstrous threats lurking in the hidden depths of the Mariana Trench.
Right from the opening scene, director Ben Wheatley pulls us into the tense underwater world with gorgeous wide shots of submersibles diving the vibrant coral seascapes. But the beauty rapidly gives way to a grim discovery of mutilated whale carcasses, setting the stage for the terror to come. When a pair of scientists studying the trench go missing, Jonas is recruited for a rescue mission despite his reluctance to revisit the haunting traumatic events from his past.
The early suspense builds slowly with haunting underwater shots and ominous warning signs of nature’s destructive power like rumbling tectonic plates and strange emissions bubbling up from the trench. Wheatley uses this time effectively to develop characters and dynamics, establishing the competing agendas and egos aboard the advanced research vessel.
Leading the privately-funded science expedition is glamorous visionary Dr. Lily Houghton, played with bravado by Jessica McNamee. She butts heads with pragmatic mission commander Claire Jenkins (Cliff Curtis) while Jonas reports to seasoned Captain Morris (Rainn Wilson) who lends colorful humor. The tensions and banter between this ensemble cast create entertaining character moments amidst the quiet before the storm.
Of course, that storm soon arrives when a megalodon shark larger than any ever recorded terrorizes the crew and unleashes chaos across the massive ship. The sweeping CGI shots of the behemoth shark are jaw-dropping, amplifying the primal terror as it rams and breaches the hull. Wheatley balances the grand scale action sequences with claustrophobic flooding and desperate survival scenarios.
Just when it seems the threat is contained, everything escalates to an insane degree. Just as promised in the title, the monstrous denizens of the Mariana Trench begin emerging, including massive squid and bioluminescent sea worms straight out of our nightmares. Each new threat seems impossible to comprehend, let alone survive.
Amidst all the underwater mayhem, the human story still shines through. We learn more about the traumatic events that turned Jonas from decorated captain to disgraced loner. His redemptive arc of overcoming self-doubt and guilt to embrace leadership provides an emotional core, enhanced by Lily’s unflinching faith in him. Their unlikely bond amidst life-threatening danger makes for surprisingly heartfelt storytelling moments between spectacle sequences.
Meg 2: The Trench could have simply coasted on amping up the shark size and action without expanding story and character growth. But the creative team went the extra depth, pun intended, delivering an immensely entertaining film worthy of its predecessor. By the end, audiences will be both exhilarated and intrigued to see where the Meg saga descends to next. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, Meg 2 will leave you breathless.