Sometimes, you just want to go to the movies to have a fun time, and there isn’t much more fun to be had than watching Jason Statham kick the buts of anyone who confronts him or get in his way. If you want to talk about high-concept action movies, then Statham’s The Beekeeper is a revenge thriller that could very well give Statham a character that could be akin on Keanu Reeves’ John Wick series, and he has enough franchise experience to
We meet Statham’s Adam Clay as he’s peacefully tending to his beehives, the tenant of Phylicia Rashad’s Eloise, a kindly retired woman who gets caught up in a phishing scheme that robs her of all her own money, as well as millions she manages for a non-profit. Adam finds Eloise dead and swears to avenge the one person who has been kind to him. Those responsible are unaware of Clay’s background as a “beekeeper,” an actual special ops agent who uses those skills to find the perpetrators and take them out with military precision. It turns out the phone center that robbed Eloise leads to a much bigger corporation led by Josh Hutcherson’s Derek Danforth and a political conspiracy that isn’t ready to deal with a force like Clay.
Again, it’s pretty high concept, and Statham’s character doesn’t need to say a ton to get the job done. In fact, he barely says anything, and thankfully, doesn’t resort to the quips of some of his former co-stars like Dwayne Johnson or Sylvester Stallone. Even so, there’s a way in which Clay commits all of his violence as a Beekeeper that keeps the film light and entertaining, which makes it far better than if things were taken more seriously.
One of the odder aspects of The Beekeeper are the roles of FBI agents played by Emmy Raver-Lampham and Bobby Naderi, who show up shortly after we see Clay kill someone or blow something up, essentially to survey the crime scene and comment on what we literally just saw. Raver-Lampham’s character also happens to Eloise’s daughter, who meets Adam before he goes on his vengeful rampage, but still acts quite mystified about his actions.
In other words, this might not be the most airtight screenplay by Kurt Wimmer, but one that’s often worsened by some glagrant scenery-chewing by Hutcherson and Jeremy Irons as Danforth’s head of security. Where things go in terms of how far up the political chain things go with the antagonists ends up being where The Beekeeper suffers the most, since viewers might find a few things in the last act get ridiculous.
David Ayer continues to be a capable director – some filmmakers consider being called a “journeyman” an insult, so we won’t go there – but he works well with the material and makes sure that the scenes with Statham stand out more than anything else, to the point where the scenes without Clay – done mostly to get out more information about his background, which he never speaks about himself – aren’t nearly as interesting.
As far as crafts, there’s some impressive work in editing and the stunt coordinator in the action scenes, and maybe the film’s location manager and production designer should get commended for creating the illusion of making the UK look like Massachusetts, something I only knew from speaking with Ayer.
There’s a reason why movies like The Beekeeper get made, and that’s because there’s a voracious older male fanbase for this type of gritty, violent action; the movie offers enough of Statham kicking butt that should properly sate action aficionados. It seems like a movie unlike anything else currently in theaters and perfect counterprogramming to Paramount’s Mean Girls that it should do decently.
If you’ve seen the trailer for The Beekeeper, you’ll already know if it’s a movie for you, and unlike so many films in the action genre, this one actually delivers what it promises, no more or less. Statham continues to be a dynamic leading man who pulls you on board with his latest role and gets you interested enough in the character’s background you’ll probably want to see more of Adam Clay, even if it’s in a completely different type of movie, not necessarily one based around revenge.
Awards Potential: None
Box Office Potential: Should do pretty well in a generally slow month, maybe making $40 million or more domestic.
Renewability: The Beekeeper seems made for a franchise based around Statham’s Adam Clay, similar to how John Wick has given Keanu a second act.
Overall Score: B
The Beekeeper hits theaters nationwide on Friday, Jan. 12. You can also read Above the Line’s interview with director David Ayer.
Cast: Jason Statham, Emmy Raver-Lampham, Bobby Naderi, Jeremy Irons, Josh Hutcherson, Phylicia Rashad
Director: David Ayer
Screenwriter: Kurt Wimmer
Producers: Chris Long, Bill Block, Jason Statham, Kurt Wimmer, David Ayer
DP: Gabriel Beristain
Production Design: Ben Munro
Costume Design: Kelli Jones
Editor: Geoffrey O’Brien
Score by: Jared Michael Fry, David Sardy