JASON Statham returns to the big blue sea this week for another romp with another big blue whale. It’s been five years and a global pandemic but, finally, the Meg is back.

Ben Wheatley directs Meg 2: The Trench, taking the helm the first film’s Jon Turteltaub and promising a dollop of edge to the film’s dafter credentials. A five time BIFA nominee, Wheatley has been chipping away at the top of British independent cinema for well over a decade now. It was only ever a matter of time before the blockbusters came calling.

Part two, as before, takes the writings of Steve Alten as its source. Published in 1999, The Trench is the second in Alten’s ongoing MEG series, with an eighth due next year. Whether The Stath and company can keep up the pace for another six films remains to be seen. Vin Diesel’s managed well enough.

For those who missed The Meg first time around, Statham plays deep sea search and rescue diver Jonas Taylor. Way back when, a job gone wrong saw Jonas quit the day job for a life in alcoholism. That lasted just five years, however, with the appearance of a 70ft prehistoric megladon in the Pacific Ocean pulling him straight back into the fold.

Fast forward to the present day and Jonas remains in that same fold. The OG megladon might have been killed off in the first film’s climax but there was always going to be another. It’s always bigger too.

Also out this week, Joy Ride sees four Asian-American women ‘girls trip’ to China to rediscover their generational roots. It’s brash but likeable comedy from Adele Lim, writer of Crazy Rich Asians, in her directorial debut.

Joy Ride won’t work for everyone. In balancing high sentiment with outrageous comedy, Lim wobbles precariously on a tonal tightrope. There’s little here that hasn’t been done more assuredly elsewhere. For emotional heft, see The Fairwell. For comic hijinks, Crazy Rich Asians set a high bar.

Nonetheless, Ashley Park, Stephanie Hsu, Shelly Cola and Sabrina Wu make for winning company, elevating even the sketchier material. There are, moreover, some delicious high notes here, including a wickedly entertaining sequence on a packed out train. Not simply funny, the skit lands Joy Ride’s punchiest comment on identity bias. This one’s not quite a total joy but it’s a fun ride.