Movie Review: THE BEEKEEPER Starring Jason Statham, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Bobby Naderi
Fair warning: there is a very good chance I spent more time and thought in writing this review than Kurt Wimmer spent writing a plot for The Beekeeper. If that doesn’t deter your interest in seeing the movie, read on.
Listen, I get it. Jason Statham is popular because he’s good looking and is more than capable of being an action star. You’re not going to see a Jason Statham movie to think or feel any emotions, you’re going to see him beat the piss out of baddies.
And if that’s what you’re hoping for when you see The Beekeeper, then you may have a new favorite movie. That’s precisely what Statham delivers for roughly an hour and 45 minutes.
Critical thinking? Pfft. There is nothing in it that’ll make you think even once.
Human emotion? The only emotion you’re gonna feel is the POW! as Statham delivers fatal blows to endless human waves.
A plot? Get that weak stuff out of here. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Given the complete absence of a storyline, it’s genuinely astonishing the amount of acting talent that director David Ayer managed to collect for the cast. Jeremy Irons, Phylicia Rashad, and Minnie Driver are all tremendously gifted actors with resumes that would stack against just about anyone, yet their talents are completely wasted. Rashad and Driver each have maybe three minutes of screentime, and while they aren’t terrible or anything, their impact is minimal. Irons is one of the primary antagonists, but his accent disappears and reappears more than that “friend” you have that isn’t really a friend but only shows up occasionally when they need money or a favor.
Statham is Statham. He plays to his strength, which is the same character in every movie: an English tough guy seeking vengeance who punches first and asks questions later while scowling and spitting out one-liners, yet has a surprising soft side that’s often displayed to humorous effect.
This time, he’s playing Adam Clay, the eponymous beekeeper, an alleged black ops agent who’s so deadly and secretive all he has is a birth certificate and social security number, which is curious as he, again, speaks with a decidedly English accent and I’m fairly certain England uses national insurance numbers (although I guess it’s possible he became a naturalized American citizen, but that’s too much critical thinking for this film). When Elois Parker (Rashad), his neighbor and “the only person who ever took care of” him, falls victim to scam baiters and loses over $2 million, she takes her own life in anguish.
Thankfully, Clay is there to go all John Wick on the main bad guy, Derek Danforth (Josh Hutcherson), a young wealthy guy who somehow gets painted with every cliche stereotype of what a bad guy should be. The “plot” only serves as a vessel for Statham to kill bad guys, deliver one-liners, and walk/drive away from explosions that go off in the background. The story eventually just gets so absurd, they introduce some random one-legged South African (we know this because he speaks with a really thick accent and uses a South African racial slur) who somehow brings a bunch of his other gun-wielding bad guys to a party full of federal agents who most certainly wouldn’t permit them to be carrying weapons. And that’s honestly not even the most incomprehensible part of the movie.
But, Statham does kick ass. Lots of it. He doesn’t care whether you’re a bad guy or a federal agent trying to help the FBI agents charged with tracking him down. He’s so agile, he can dodge the gunfire of 20 Navy SEALs and Delta operatives, among the best and most accurate combat sharpshooters in the world, who are 15 feet away from him in the same room. Because he’s a beekeeper. And he’s taking care of the hive.
I’m gonna stop at this point, because I’m fairly certain nothing I’m writing is going to persuade you/dissuade you. I’ll end with this. The Beekeeper is not an A5 wagyu. Don’t go into the theater expecting a cinematic masterpiece, and you won’t be disappointed. Rather, it’s more like a McDouble. If you’re craving it, it’ll hit the spot, and if you’re dying of starvation, it’ll at least keep you alive for the time being, but there are far better options available. Ayer has actually made some terrific movies in the past (he wrote and produced Training Day and wrote and directed End of Watch), but this doesn’t come close.
And if you’re actually interested in seeing some justice being laid out on scam baiters (although with a little less punchy punchy stabby stabby), check out guys like Scammer Payback or Jim Browning on Youtube. The call centers, while highly romanticized in the film, do exist in various forms, albeit almost always in foreign countries, typically worked by low-wage scammers.
The Beekeeper gets a C-