There is a misconception that all giant monster movies from the 1950s were all bad, carelessly made schlock. Part of this misconception is that the often laugh-out-loud Mystery Science Theater 3000 or RiffTrax would frequently feature the worst of the worst of that era's science fiction nonsense. However, there are many good monster movies from the '50s, like The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, The Monster That Challenged the World, Tarantula, and, often cited as the best of that era, Them!, a police procedural about giant ants. The Meg definitely takes its inspiration from '50s monster movies, and it's from the good ones.
We have the classic hero in search of redemption in rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham). After a rescue goes wrong, Jonas hits the bottle hard. He is called back into action when his ex-wife (Jessica McNamee) and her crew are trapped in a disabled vessel on the ocean floor. Oh yeah, there's also a 70-foot-long prehistoric shark called the Megalodon to contend with.
The Meg is based on the novel Meg by Steve Alten and directed by Jon Turteltaub (Cool Runnings, National Treasure, 3 Ninjas). I have never been a fan of Turteltaub's work, but here he does a remarkably good job, as he is able to ratchet up the tension when needed, and he surprisingly doesn't show his monster right off the bat. The creature is kept in the shadows for the entire first half of the movie.
There may be too many characters here, and Rainn Wilson's billionaire character is so obnoxious that the movie is in danger of being ruined. Luckily, he has a good exit scene.
While The Meg takes itself seriously, it also has fun with itself. And of course, there are some amusing Jaws references—and I could have sworn I saw a Piranha from Joe Dante's 1978 film in the opening shot.
The Meg is a thrilling underwater adventure and good summer entertainment.