Review – The Beekeeper

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Overview

Synopsis A retired government agent living as a beekeeper is drawn back into the fight after an innocent woman is scammed by a malicious corporate hacker group.

Length 1 Hour 45 Minutes

Release Date January 12, 2024

 

Rating R

Distribution Amazon MGM Studios

Directing David Ayer

Writing Kurt Wimmer

Composition Dave Sardy, Jared Michael Fry

Starring Jason Statham, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Josh Hutcherson, Bobby Naderi, Minnie Driver, Phylicia Rashad, Jeremy Irons

One of my favorite works of film criticism, which is no longer online, was published by Birth Movies Death about the career of Jason Statham — wherein the author discussed how the somewhat less-than-stellar actor’s filmography has been a consistent and comforting presence in his chaotic life. With things being difficult, these movies were a presence in his life as he regularly turned to them as he dealt with years of addiction and employment issues.

The works of Jason Statham have a consistency to them, and while few of his films have achieved status as great films (besides Snatch), many of them have proven to be quite enduring and enjoyable. Transporter, Crank, Redemption, The Meg, Wrath of Man, and Spy are all enjoyable movies that use his screen presence well. Even if his films are somewhat forgettable or cliche, his works are dependable and comforting, given that audiences can be assured the newest Statham action film will be a solid and consistent time at the movies. This is true of his newest film as well.

Review

Few films have a premise more cliche, derivative, and ridiculous than The Beekeeper. This movie from director David Ayer starring the great Jason Statham is yet another of his high-octane action hero movies. Yet, as I sat in the theater watching the movie, I couldn’t help but enjoy myself. Despite observing the poor cinematography during the daytime shots, the rushed character motivations, and the intense way the movie escalated from small-scale action to massive over-the-top camp, I couldn’t help but enjoy it. This movie should’ve been a cliche January action movie, but it’s got an infectious and absurd energy to it. 

The movie follows the life of Adam Cliff, a middle-aged beekeeper who is renting a barn from an elderly woman living a pleasant life in rural Massachusetts. When her financial life is destroyed by computer hackers, Cliff reveals his history as a secret government agent with a very specific set of skills he uses to carve a path of personal vengeance and justice. As we discover, the “Beekeepers” are a discreet US government organization that sends out nearly unkillable agents who are above the law to protect society in ways the legal system cannot. In this case, Cliff finds himself chasing a corporate conspiracy with links to Silicon Valley and the federal government that go far beyond his expectations. 

The path of destruction Statham carves in The Beekeeper is an absurd one and possibly one of his most insane ones to date (outside of films like Crank 2: High Voltage). Ayer seems to be leaning into many of the tropes of Statham’s persona, crafting an Equalizer-esc assassin who is proficient enough at killing with martial arts and household objects that he doesn’t even bother using a gun until the finale. 

The film’s absurdity also extends to its predilection with bees. The concept of a “beekeeper” is laid out philosophically in the film, with society being described as a hive in need of protection from the outside. The beekeepers are taught the importance of right and wrong and given infinite resources to accomplish any mission. Amusingly, the movie is constantly throwing out puns, factoids, and pretentious philosophical muses on the nature of bees as a concept — with one of the villains going as far as to quote “To bee or not to bee.” 

The movie is genuinely funny, and benefits from how quickly the story escalates and becomes larger and crazier. Its somewhat reactionary approach to morality is certainly nothing new, given it’s approaching the same moral questions Dirty Harry and Death Wish have both interrogated (what use is the law when it is incapable of creating order and justice?) This is nothing new for revenge movies, though, and the novelty comes in the absurdity of the scenario.

It is a curious work for Ayer, given his career to date. His screenplay for Training Day, followed by his solid work on End of Watch, Sabotage, and Fury set him up to be a nasty and consistent action filmmaker, which fell apart after his infamous work on Suicide Squad, Bright, and The Tax CollectorThe Beekeeper’s pairing of Ayer and Statham is probably a safe career choice for him. Still, it is also a good opportunity to remind audiences of what he is capable of. His work here is uneven but nasty, funny, and colorful. All of the interior scenes in the film are beautifully lit and his action staging is solid and creative. 

The Beekeeper is in all likelihood a forgettable film that will go into the bin of generic action movies produced annually by actors like Liam Neesan that exist to be a flash in the pan. However, a movie like this is a periodic reminder that boilerplate action has its moments, and films like this can serve a purpose. It is a serviceable action movie that takes a few extra steps to be funny and absurd when it could’ve remained reliably mediocre and still made its budget back.

Positives

+ Fun Performances
+ Brutal and Creative Action
+ Goofy Dialog and Bee Puns
+ Beautiful interior cinematography

Negatives

- Derivative and Cliche Story
- Poor Daytime Outdoor Lighting

The Bottom Line

The Beekeeper is one of the most fun movies Jason Statham has starred in in a long time, being both a solid action flick and an absurd movie that gets a few good laughs out of his audience.

 

7.8

Tyler Hummel

Born into the unexplored residential backwater of Chicago, Tyler Hummel is a graduate of Tribeca Flashpoint College where he studied Sound Design for Film and Interactive Media. When he isn't hosting his public access talk show The Fox Valley Film Critics or collecting DragonBall Z figurines, he enjoys writing and directing short films. As with Rick from Casablanca, "he's a man like any other man, just more so!"

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