THE pitch for this gloriously OTT shark attack movie is a simple one: Jason Statham versus a giant, prehistoric shark. I mean, what more could you possibly want out of a summer blockbuster?

The gruff action hero stars as Jonas Taylor, an expert sea diver who gives up the game after a disastrous mission left several people killed in an underwater explosion. He claims it was caused by a giant creature but others believe he imagined the threat and left crew members behind to die.

Five years later he is reluctantly called back into action. He is tasked with saving those trapped in a submersible pod near a state-of-the-art underwater research facility 200 miles off China’s coast known as “Mana One” and funded by eccentric billionaire Morris (Rainn Wilson) who arrives to see what his money has bought him.

Unfortunately for everyone assembled there, Jonas is proven right after all: during the daring rescue mission they discover that a 75-foot-long shark known as the Megalodon, thought to be extinct for millions of years, has escaped from the depths of the ocean and is on the hunt.

Nothing about this teeth-gnashing extravaganza is what you would call subtle but honestly what do you expect? It’s a film that thankfully knows just how silly it is and has a lot of fun with it. It doesn’t resort to Sharknado levels of near-unwatchable stupidity and technical cheapness but at the same time keeps its tongue lodged firmly and enjoyably in its cheek.

Every bit of the huge budget is all up there on the screen to make the all-important effects feel convincing in the face of what is a ridiculously-sized creature. Combined with a good sense of timing in the direction by Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure, Cool Runnings), it delivers a fast and furious all you can eat buffet of shark-infested set-pieces that escalate in scale and preposterousness as they go on. There’s no doubting it’s been toned down for a wide age range of audience members but hides it ably with well-executed chomping thrills.

The star is ultimately the eponymous, humongous shark and the film seems to revel, almost fetishistically, in the spectacle of it leaping unexpectedly out of the water or its giant fin racing along the water towards it next prey in a kind of steroidal Jaws fashion. The experience will feed off the collective reactions of a packed crowd on a Friday night; I had a grin on my face the size of the shark’s from Finding Nemo for most of it.

It also gets the chemistry right between a pleasingly multicultural cast who are evidently all-in for playing up to the cheesiness inherent in the film’s one-liner heavy dialogue. Statham does his Statham thing, continuing to prove he’s great value for money as a star that commits to his chosen action hero status, and while not as outright parodic as he was in Paul Feig’s hilarious Spy, he once again showcases that he’s willing to poke fun at himself.

He’s supported by the likes of Chinese superstar Li Bingbing, providing some of the film’s solid attempts at emotional engagement as marine biologist Suyin who wants to live up to her father Zhang’s (Winston Chao) legendary status in the field and protect her young daughter Meiying (an adorable and engaging Shuya Sophia Cai).

Page Kennedy is good fun as crew member DJ, basically a conduit for the audience as he points out the obvious need to get as far away from the giant shark as possible. And Wilson gives good snark as the arrogant moneyman who finds that he’s bitten off more than he can chew.

Those looking for any sort of weighty man versus nature moral existentialism or realism should go swimming in other waters. But The Meg is a great example of an old-fashioned, pure-at-heart escapist event movie that doesn’t pretend to be anything that it’s not and has boat loads of fun being its own ludicrous self.