Film: The Beekeeper
Cast: Jason Statham, Jeremy Irons, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Bobby Naderi, Josh Hutcherson, Minnie Driver, Enzo Cilenti, Dan Li, Phylicia Rashad, Jemma Redgrave
Director: David Ayer
Runtime: 105 min
Jason Statham is back in ‘action’ after Guy Ritchie’s “Wrath of Man,” this time in director David Ayer’s (“Suicide Squad,” “Fury”) film scripted by veteran action film scenarist Kurt Wimmer. The screenplay is probably written with Statham in mind because it doesn’t have much dialogue emanating from him and the action set-pieces come at you in a swift and easy flow.
Statham is the kind of action star who has a deep presence and gets you totally riveted in the kind of stuff he does on screen. While the story is not much to write home about, it’s the action chops that keep you glued as they keep getting bolder and bigger as the vengeance spiel progresses to its ultimate culmination.
The screenwriter was smart enough to lend the taciturn Statham, who plays Adam Clay, a ‘Beekeeeper,’ an emotional anchor in the elderly Eloise Parker( Phylicia Rashad). They may not be related by blood but she happens to be the only one who has shown him some care and consideration while allowing him the use(on lease) of her Barn for processing honey.
The entire conceit here is dependent on Statham’s affection for the lady and how much her shocking suicide due to a phishing scam, affected him as a person. Ayer’s narrative does well to establish that strongly enough to get us through the vengeance bit. When Adam tersely speaks of how much Eloise meant to him, and why, you believe it even though there’s just a couple of sequences prior to that, when we see Eloise inviting him to dinner after his days work with the Bees gets done.
What we don’t get though is that Statham, a former top-secret, highly skilled operative of a clandestine special group known as Beekeepers, is now collecting honey post-retirement. Couldn’t figure out why they were called Beekeepers in the first place and why after retirement do they cultivate Bees and collect honey. There’s even a booklet going around about how to do the same. The explanation on that association in the film appears contrived, gimmicky and was rather too facile to hold weight or curry favor. Maybe it was Wimmer’s intent to generate some philosophical connection but when Statham as Adam waxes on about the organization of the beehive and the necessity of ensuring a functioning society, it falls on deaf ears. A Statham fan obviously doesn’t want to hear deep stuff from the action hero. He just wants him to get right into the action. And that’s what this film does for most of its runtime.
When Adam gets into his super-duper extra-secret commando ( one who has never been fingerprinted and exists outside of every known governmental structure) mode, the narrative picks up speed and momentum and it’s just one action sequence after another. Heloise’s daughter, Verona Parker (Emmy Raver-Lampman),an F.B.I agent herself, goes all righteous and talks about following the rules and doing the right thing. In fact she and her partner Matt Wiley (Bobby Naderi) are among the ones giving chase here.
The bad guys are pretty cocky and convincing too. David Witts as Garnett, Josh Hutcherson as the data mining company’s vice president, Derek Danforth, as the spoiled son of the president of the United States (Jemma Redgrave), Jeremy Irons as Derek’s minder and protector, former CIA director Wallace Westwyld, and Taylor James as a brash, loud mercenary.
Despite the generic conventions upheld here and a rather simplistic assay, this film does manage to engage with some really good casting choices, smart, smooth, and swift action set-pieces and Statham working up a sweat like a well-oiled machine!