A college professor once disdainfully told me that a character within a story has more choices than silence or violence. Obviously, this professor had never seen a Clint Eastwood movie. He also had no chin, which leads one to believe that maybe the phrenologists were onto something, after all.
Jason Statham is another actor who has benefited greatly from the silence-or-violence decision tree. The movie where he best straddles this line is, perhaps, Wrath of Man. Yet, Statham does have a bit more range in his toolbox. His cockney films display this. In between, he offers a wide selection of mediocre action flicks, blockbuster action flicks, and even giant-shark flicks.
Where does The Beekeeper fall on the scale?
Its closest comparison might be The Transporter. Is it as good as The Transporter? Let’s take a spoiler-free look at The Beekeeper and find out…
To Beekeeper or Not to Beekeeper
The Beekeeper has a decent pedigree. The story is written by Kurt Wimmer, who penned the much-maligned (but I kind of dig it) Sphere, The Thomas Crown Affair, and the entertaining Equilibrium. He then settled into a string of remakes no one asked for (Total Recall, Point Break, and Children of the Corn.)
David Ayer directs. Ayer has solid credits as a writer (U-571, Training Day, and End of Watch), but he has a tendency to choke on his own seriousness/grittiness when directing (Sabotage, Fury, and Suicide Squad). Exceptions to the rule exist, but the best action films usually know when to display a lighter touch.
For example, Lethal Weapon has a scene where Riggs chews on the barrel of a gun as he laments his dead wife. Once the movie reveals this information, it is content to entertain the viewer with Riggs’s reckless behavior instead. Ayer comes off as the type of director who would choose to rub the viewer’s nose further into Riggs’s misery rather than trusting the audience got the point.
Does Ayers do this in The Beekeeper? Thankfully, no. He seems to realize what kind of movie he is making. The Beekeeper is more comic book than commentary.
As the titular character, Jason Statham plays a quiet man with a peculiar set of skills. It is the same character we see in countless movies. This Shane-type character appears in countless movies because he is always fun to follow. Who doesn’t like to watch the bad guys mess with the wrong man?
Joining Statham is Josh Hutcherson, who portrays a greedy tech douchebag, and Jeremy Irons as Hutcherson’s fixer. Minnie Driver appears in a blink-and-you-miss it role. None of these performances require any analysis. They simply exist as reasons for Statham to engage in mayhem.
Hive and Take
The first act of The Beekeeper is effective in a workmanlike way. The characters are introduced. Statham is given a sufficient reason to turn his back on his peaceful existence and beat down bad guys.
Unfortunately, things start to go a bit awry in the second act. Villain dilution is one problem that hinders The Beekeeper. The movie does not do a good job of keeping the focus on Hutcherson as it sets up a chain of henchmen for Statham to work his way through in a ladder-like fashion.
Consider Commando. Vernon Wells is glorious as Bennett. He is in focus throughout the movie as the goal. Meanwhile, President Arius, Sully, Cooke, and Henriques are all given sufficient attention, so that their demises carry weight as Matrix mows through them. A sense of satisfaction exists as they all get their comeuppance in a morality-play kind of way.
Henchman randomly come and go in The Beekeeper. Some are given too much attention too late in the movie. Others come and go with startling speed. For example, a specialist is brought in to stop Statham. The specialist is contacted, shows up at a gas station, fights Statham, shoots a minigun for five seconds, and then dies, all within about three minutes of screentime.
Due to decisions like this, no catharsis happens when the bad guys are eliminated. It is simply flashy images onscreen.
Queen B is for Boring
This brings us to the worst part of The Beekeeper. Whenever the movie starts to generate momentum, the plug is pulled on all of its energy by cutting to worthless characters. Let’s call them Detective Mom Jeans and her work husband, Detective Goatee.
Detective Mom Jeans and Detective Goatee are meaningless within the story. They provide nothing beyond one line of dialogue that sets the table for the third act. One gets tired of saying it, but it has to be said. The characters look like they were inserted as DEI requirements. All of the time that is wasted on them could have been spent fixing the movie’s villain-dilution issue. Inexplicably, Detective Mom Jeans and Detective Goatee take up about 20 percent of the film. They are so token they could fire up an arcade game.
The Sting of Disappointment
Despite the above sins, The Beekeeper has a chance to redeem itself in the third act. A genuinely interesting development occurs. Plus, it has an obvious real-world analog that makes things further intriguing. All of this provides the opportunity for a hardcore ending that could have elevated The Beekeeper from a B-level action movie to a minor classic of the genre.
If it had the intestinal fortitude to go through with it…
Alas, The Beekeeper did not have the intestinal fortitude to go through with it. It does have a decent final fight with Henchman #27D, but then it takes the easy way out in its denouement.
The Beekeeper or The BeeGetRidOfIter
At the beginning of this review, the question was posed: is The Beekeeper better than The Transporter? Probably not. The Transporter was a fun little action flick with nice variety. It had car chases and some imagination to its fights. For example, the scene where Statham greases himself up with used motor oil so henchman can’t get a grip on him is a simple way to make a standard fight more interesting.
The Beekeeper doesn’t have much variety to its fight scenes. They are mostly quick-cut vignettes of Statham punching and arm-locking guys that may or may not end with a front kick/stomp. Most of them end with a front kick/stomp.
Like The Transporter, The Beekeeper will likely get a sequel starring Statham. It will likely become a franchise of sorts, with Statham exiting in favor of anonymous action stars that don’t even achieve the level of a Jeff Speakman or a Cynthia Rothrock. The Beekeeper has some fun moments that can entertain action fans in the moment. Yet, the movie will immediately flit from their minds once it is over, like a bee moving on to its next flower…
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch Wrath of Man for the eleventy ninth time…
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