The underwater thriller isn’t the only type of movie “The Trench” knowingly references, however. As soon as Jonas, Meiying, Jiuming, and Rigas escape the trench station, they join up with Mac and DJ (Page Kennedy, also returning from the first film) as the duo attempt to “Die Hard” their way around the mercenaries who’ve invaded the Mana One.
“The Trench” isn’t shy about going full-bore into action movie territory, letting Statham and Jing demonstrate their considerable athleticism at certain points throughout the film. What might be most surprising is the way it expands the character of DJ, who in the first “Meg” was a nervous engineer who was none too happy about being involved in the attacks by the giant prehistoric shark in that movie. Using the power of the sequel, DJ is now a far more savvy and confident survivalist, packing a literal bag with all sorts of emergency supplies, including a .45 caliber pistol complete with poison-tipped bullets — “just like in ‘Jaws 2′” he explains.
While the world of Sharksploitation is far too large for me to say whether or not this is the first killer shark movie that has a character reference to “Jaws” in it, suffice to say it’s pretty rare, given how much of a touchstone that movie is to the subgenre. In a lot of ways, “The Trench” feels as winking as Renny Harlin’s “Deep Blue Sea” does, and that’s no accident, as Page Kennedy eventually performs a shark-themed rap song during the end credits (shout out to LL Cool J’s “Deepest, Bluest (Shark’s Fin)”) and the evil Jess is dispatched by a Meg mid-sentence (a la Samuel L. Jackson’s poor, doomed monologuist in “Deep Blue Sea”), the Megs having emerged from the trench thanks to Montes’ explosion making a hole in the natural thermolayer.