One of the most underrated films to have been released over recent years had to be 2018’s The Meg. This action-packed juggernaut did everything expected of it and more, yet for some reason was quickly forgotten by audiences. The question that left everybody asking was – what exactly did people expect from a film that was largely Jason Statham versus a huge shark?

The film worked because it didn’t try to be anything else but just that – but the fact that it actually had a decent plot and good characterisation meant that it probably should be held in a higher regard than it actually is. To its testament though while films like Skyscraper came and went now The Meg lives on with Meg 2: The Trench.

This time around things are very different for deep sea rescuer Jonas Taylor (Statham – Furious 7). Now he finds himself a single father of Meiying (Shuya Sophia Cai – Somewhere Only We Know) and working for her Uncle Jiuming Zhang (Jing Wu – Wolf Warrior) at a marine research company.

Always looking for action though Jonas also teams up with his colleague Mac (Cliff Curtis – Avatar: The Way Of Water) to do some eco-warrior work – something which often places his life his danger.

However, that aside Jonas’ real work now is leading scientific expeditions down into one of the deepest parts of the ocean known as, The Trench. This work has been steadily safe but on the particular day that Meiying decides that she is going to stowaway on the sub everything goes wrong when the crew discover that another a team, led by a mercenary named Montes (Sergio Peris-Mencheta – Resident Evil: Afterlife) have been secretly mining The Trench.

The discovery soon means that Jonas and his crew are soon battling money-hungry mercenaries, Megs and other prehistoric creatures in a do or die battle.

Director Ben Wheatley (Free Fire) didn’t exactly have an easy job when he took on the role of directing Meg 2: The Trench. Fans of the first film seem to be fiercely patriotic and there was no doubt they would let me know if there was something wrong with the sequel. Luckily though Wheatley, aided by a pretty decent screenplay, not only manages to pull off a good follow-up film but also makes it a bit of a bigger affair as well.

It is easy to see that with this film the writers and Wheatley have taken what worked from the first film and mixed it with the recipes that have made Underwater, Die Hard and Jurassic World work so well. It doesn’t matter with the characters are battling for their lives at the bottom of the trench, fighting to take back a marine station or pitting themselves against prehistoric creatures there always seems to be creative and unique ways for them to go about it. Sure, some of the ways are completely unbelievable but the film is so enjoyable there is no way the audience is ever going to worry about that.

Even the most surprising parts of this film still seem to work with plausibility. There are very few people that would expect the sequel of The Meg to feature other prehistoric creatures, yet that is exactly what happens here and for some reason it seems to work. Normally also writing out characters like Suyin and her father Zhang would make a sequel unwatchable but here the plotline that both have passed away actually enhances what Jonas has to face in Meg 2.

 One thing tha doesn’t change from the first film is the characterisation. Jonas, Mac and DJ (Page Kennedy – S.W.A.T.) all have their characters grow further this time around. DJ is expanded so much more that while he does still provide comedic relief he also becomes more of an action hero this time around. Sadly though most of the strong characters from the first film are gone and while an older version of Meiying does provide a better storyline it does feel a shame that the likes of Ruby Rose and BingBing Lididn’t return for the sequel.

When it comes to the performances in Meg 2. Jason Statham and Cliff Curtis lead the way as they take their characters to whole new levels. Young Shuya Sophia Cai does a great job alongside her much more experience co-stars while it is great to see Jing Wu get the chance to shine in a Hollywood led film. Sergio Peris-Mencheta and Skyler Samuels (American Horror Story) are also serviceable despite playing cliched villains.

If you go into The Meg 2: The Trench expecting a good, fun action film then you won’t be disappointed. While the boundaries are pushed a little more this time around this is still just pretty much Jason Statham versus some massive sharks… and there is nothing wrong with that. There are some good nods to the first film and once again the audience are taken on a fun ride and you get to see Phuket’s beauty in all its glory.

3.5/5 Stars