With great action beats and corny humor, Statham’s latest revenge tale fits perfectly in with those classics from the 80s and 90s.
PLOT: In The Beekeeper, one man’s brutal campaign for vengeance takes on national stakes after he is revealed to be a former operative of a powerful and clandestine organization known as “Beekeepers”.
REVIEW: Over the last two decades, Jason Statham has built himself a nice little corner of the action genre. Whatever situation he’s put into, it’s almost a guarantee that he’ll kick some ass on his way out of it. This latest action outing sees Statham playing a Beekeeper; a man deadset on revenge after his friend is taken advantage of financially. One of the brilliant elements is how much of the heavy lifting for the film is done in such simplified ways. Want to set up a villain that the entire audience will hate? Well here are some bad guys who take money from vulnerable old people. The perfect people to want to see get their comeuppance.
The filmmakers do a good job of setting up Statham’s friendship with Eloise. Given how little screen time this character has, the casting of Phylicia Rashad feels perfect. She’s played so many maternal characters that it’s easy to project positive traits onto her, even when they’re not explicitly stated. Statham’s mission is so understandable that the audience is on his side from the jump. All of the bad guys are easy to hate given their complete lack of empathy regarding their actions. Plus, who doesn’t like seeing some tech bro’s taken down by karma?
Most people go into a Statham movie for the action and I’m happy to report that this one kicks all sorts of ass. While mostly hand-to-hand combat, these sequences are expertly shot and have a sense of realism to them. But director David Ayer combines this with enough over-the-top moments, that it never feels too dark and twisted. You’ll still have to suspend some disbelief as there’s a lot of Statham beating 10+ guys in a matter of seconds. Though I’d argue that’s what most moviegoers are signing up for when they buy a ticket.
Though, if you’re hoping you’ll finally see Statham get his ass kicked in a fight, then you’ll be disappointed. But unlike some of the characters he’s played in the past, it actually makes sense for him to be so unstoppable here. If he had shown weaknesses in combat, then he wouldn’t have the aura that he has throughout the film. No one stands a chance when Clay has you in his sights. Had he not been such a force of nature, then the Beekeeper program wouldn’t have much weight to it.
David Ayer may have really found his calling here. Usually, his action films have a darker tone and realism to them. However, The Beekeeper is more in line with the action films of the 80s and 90s, where the priority is entertainment. There are a lot of corny lines but they’re all done to enhance the experience. Ayer is clearly wanting the audience to have fun with Clay’s revenge mission. For as violent as the film is, there’s a level of care put into the how’s and why’s of what’s going on.
If there’s one performance that stands out, it’s Josh Hutcherson‘s bad guy. He’s clearly having a blast and relishing in being a dirt bag. Those are the most fun bad guys. One aspect I wasn’t much of a fan of was the subplot involving Emmy Raver-Lampman‘s Agent Verona Parker. The FBI mostly serves as additional bodies for Clay to deal with versus actually contributing to the plot. And given Verona is the daughter of Eloise, I expected her to be a little more understanding of the situation. It’s definitely too little, too late when she finally comes to her senses.
In the end, The Beekeeper is a fun time at the movies. It’s not perfect and you really have to shut your brain off in terms of logic but that’s not always a bad thing. This is a perfect escape from the realities of the world and everyone getting hurt deserves it in some way or another. We’ll just ignore all those Federal officers that Statham took out. I always love a revenge story and this one manages to be nonstop from the start.
THE BEEKEEPER IS IN THEATERS EVERYWHERE ON JANUARY 12TH, 2023.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/the-beekeeper-review/