Tough guy Statham works his action-star mojo and gruff charm in director David Ayer’s latest film

Text: Jedd Jong Images: © 2024 Miramax Distribution Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

High-concept franchises might be all the rage now, but there is still comfort to be found in old-school action movies — namely, the thrill of seeing heroes beat up villains and the assurance that the good guys win at the end of the day. Jason Statham is one of the steadfast purveyors of this time-tested brand of escapism.

In The Beekeeper, Statham plays Adam Clay, who is, yes, an actual beekeeper. He lives on a farm in rural Massachusetts, and one day, his kindly neighbour, Eloise Parker (Phylicia Rashad), falls victim to a phishing scam and loses all her life savings. Adam seeks to avenge her, taking on spoiled tech mogul Derek Danforth (Josh Hutcherson), who runs a network of scam call centres and data mining operations.

Emmy Raver-Lampman as Verona, an FBI agent

It’s not as easy as it seems — Derek is the son of wealthy Danforth Enterprises founder Jessica Danforth (Jemma Redgrave) and employs former CIA director Wallace Westwyld (Jeremy Irons), who used to date his mother. Because of his connections to power, Derek is well protected. Further complicating Adam’s vigilante quest is Eloise’s daughter, Verona (Emmy Raver-Lampman), who happens to be an FBI agent. While pursuing Adam, Verona discovers he is a retired member of an elite, top-secret organisation called the Beekeepers. Adam summons his skills as he blazes a path of vengeance that leads all the way to the top of society.

Fast-paced and frenetic, The Beekeeper possesses intensity and absurdity — in a good way. “The whole movie escalates in terms of the action, and it goes through an incredible, great crescendo,” Statham tells Variety. Statham says the “mythology of the beekeeping world” adds a layer of intrigue. But let’s get something straight: Those who watch a Statham joint don’t do it for the plot or the mystery. They do it to see him deliver justice with his fists and trot out lines such as “I’m a beekeeper. I protect the hive. Sometimes I use fire to smoke out hornets” through gritted teeth.

Statham’s undeniable charisma and screen presence have made him a top action star for almost 20 years. He possesses a gruffness, physicality, and masculinity that is garnished with just a hint of self-awareness and a twinkle in his eye. “There’s something about how he fights, how he looks on camera,” director David Ayer tells Consequence about his leading man. “There’s something about his presence that really enables people to project themselves into that character.” Ayer sought to make a movie that would be in line with what Statham’s fans expect of him but that also amplifies his presence and adds a little something that sets The Beekeeper apart from his other movies.

In addition to Statham, the movie has a stacked cast, especially for what some might view as a disposable action flick. “It’s like a basketball team — he’s absolutely the power centre, so then it’s getting people around him that elevate his game: Minnie Driver, Jeremy Irons, Jemma Redgrave, Josh Hutcherson, Emmy Raver-Lampman — putting an amazing cast around him just elevates him even more,” Ayer says. Also in the supporting cast is Rashad, and the movie begins by establishing a caring relationship between her character and Statham’s. Ayer feels that the warmth and humanity that Rashad brings to the movie is what he “felt has been missing a little bit from [Statham’s] world.”

An action movie needs a villain that audiences will love to hate, and here, that comes courtesy of Hutcherson, very much playing against type. “I mean, I thought they had the wrong guy,” Hutcherson quips. “That’s always an actor’s dream, to not just be put in a box as… ‘the nice guy’. And it was such a cool opportunity to play something so odd and out there and different.” As an overprivileged, callous, and cruel young man, his character is easy to root against.

Jason Statham, a stellar supporting cast, and excellent fight choreography set The Beekeeper apart from your run-of-the-mill action flick. And when Statham’s doling it out, revenge sure is sweet.

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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 organisation known as 'Beekeepers'.

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