The Beekeeper Sees Jason Statham Having Some Fun Bringing a Jar of Honey to a Gunfight

The Beekeeper is a well-oiled and by-the-book actioner that simultaneously takes itself very seriously, and yet not at all. All Jason Statham needs to do in this genre of film is what he always does. Wear a couple nice suits, grumble out a few words, give off a stoic frown, have some everyman charm, and kill some enemies with violence and swagger. The Beekeeper is Statham’s bread and butter work. Thankfully, the film knows that and embraces it. 

Despite being a step up from the disastrous 2016 Suicide Squad and 2017’s not-so Bright: The Beekeeper sees director David Ayer biting off a little more honeycomb than he can chew. At first the moviehas the echoes of a straightforward generic revenge thriller, but it soon transforms into a national level conspiracy with ties to oval office corruption. It commits extremely hard to the melange of styles. With other plotlines involving an illustrious group of ‘beekeepers’, two chipper cops, and a very out of place assassin sent out to play, the audience may feel strung out by the copious moving pieces.

When we first meet Statham’s Adam Clay, he’s living the quiet life as a tenant in the garage of retired schoolteacher Eloise Parker (Phylicia Rashad). He sticks to himself, predominantly spending his time with a colony of bees he so loves to care for. Eloise is robbed of over two million dollars in a phishing scam. The con engineered by Mickey Garnett (David Witts). Prematurely ending her life out of shame for what has just transpired on her laptop, Clay is wrongfully arrested for the crime. A decision that is immediately reversed by daughter of Eloise and member of the FBI – Agent Verona Parker (Emmy Raver-Lampman).

As with many of the characters Statham inhabits, Clay has a mysterious past tied to a vague government agency – he is known not to be messed with. When the word ‘Beekeeper’ is spoken, authorities shudder. Contacting his mysterious friends to get the whereabouts of these fraudulent calls, the one-man army rapidly calls himself to action. He enacts biblical and scorched earth revenge on Garnett in his call centre known as UDG and ends the loathsome fraudsters. This grabs the attention of multiple higher ups, including technology executive Derek Danforth (Josh Hutcherson), security chief of ‘Danforth Enterprises’ Wallace Westwyld (Jeremy Irons), and Derek’s influential mother Jessica Danforth (Jemma Redgrave). The hive has been shaken.

When Garnett and his team of mercenaries find out where Clay has been living out his retirement, they swiftly target and fire a bullet storm upon the colony – revenge is cyclical. For John Wick it was a dog. For Adam Clay, it’s a swarm of bees. For both, the only response lies not in words, but with lots of weapons.

Josh Hutcherson embodies the role of a pathetic, tech-bro business wiz with repulsive vigour, the script making him as immature and deplorable foil. Irons however gives a more laid-back performance; he’s merely a grumpy security detail that is well-aware what Statham can do to this family. Statham is competent but the script runs out of ways to introduce the character without repeating the same idioms about beekeeping.

The plot grinds to an excruciating standstill in the middle act, and just when it begins to pick up at the end, it immediately wraps up. Essentially a flower denuded of all its pollen. This is mainly an issue with the poorly edited structure of the film. Several aspects lack punch or pace. Detectives Parker and Wiley (Bobby Naderi) are often simply re-treading what has happened in the prior scene. The audience are there to see Statham go to town on a sea of goons; not spend a drawn-out amount of time with half-baked detective intrigue.

However, whatever weaknesses there are, there is a certain frisson in the basic elements which have the audience enjoy seeing Statham knocking someone out with a jar of honey. It also relishes having more puns about bees than you can wave a honey dipper at. Some of the set pieces hit with sticky, jaunty, bang-bang entertainment value. Very little is to be taken seriously even when the film wants you to.

The film does convey a message, albeit in a rather camp and contrived way, regarding the state of elderly vulnerability in the digital age. Phishing scams are still incredibly rampant, and people forget how unacclimatised some older generations are to the internet. Luckily, rather than demonising those that have simply not grown up with ever-evolving technology, The Beekeeper is about getting old-fashioned revenge on those who prey on the weak. Sometimes all you need is a bit of grit, two gallons of petrol, and the Jason Statham willpower to storm a corrupt call centre fully armed in the name of justice. To put an end to these corrupt phonies, Adam Clay makes sure every bullet stings.

The Beekeeper does pretty much what you expect from a B-movie (Editor comment: I’ll let this pun slide). There is a lot of stock fun to be had, even if it is only a drone in the actioner hive.

Director: David Ayer

Cast: Jason Statham, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Josh Hutcherson

Writer: Kurt Wimmer

Kahn Duncan

Kahn is a passionate Melbourne based film lover who looks to film as a tool for both entertainment, education, but also feeling. Attempts to watch at least one feature film a day, but unfortunately life gets in the way sometimes. Prospective Graduate of Media Communications (Screen Studies) and Business (Marketing) at Monash University.

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