Bee-Grade John Wick
I don’t know how many people Jason Statham kills in The Beekeeper. Many of the deaths happen through fiercely fast editing, and some might not be kills at all – maybe Statham just injured his foes. Regardless, he kills a lot of ‘em.
That’s why this movie exists. Hell, it’s why any Jason Statham action movie exists. The difference is one of tone. Beekeeper creates an indefensible group of villains in its ransomware ring, creating a raw, violent fantasy to take out society’s scummiest. Cue the cheers as they lose fingers, have their bones broken, are set aflame, or die otherwise hilariously cruel, awful deaths.
The central thesis sees Statham as a retired member of a ludicrously deep, deep state organization meant to keep society’s order, and runs (as Beekeeper keeps expanding on) like a beehive. It’s becomes a ridiculous morality play: Is it right to torch the building of an underground ransomware company? Statham’s Adam Clay (also a literal beekeeper) says yes, and no one can tell him otherwise.
Released in the ‘80s, Beekeeper likely stars Van Damme or Steven Seagal. In the ‘90s, maybe Bruce Willis. Given time, the 2000s produce a version of The Beekeeper with Liam Neeson. It’s a movie of no specific era, minus its technology angle, just an excuse for an on-screen action star to explode things, bodies included.
At a breezy 105-minutes, Beekeeper doesn’t slow down. Even its dialog deals in puns, one-liners, and other absurdities, leading to an overarching story that leads through all levels of government. All of them. Literally. To the top. In that, Beekeeper plays like a videogame, with Statham progressing through stages, beginning in a small facility and moving upward through the management.
With FBI trailing him, led by the wonderfully fun Emmy Raver-Lampman, Statham runs through ex-Seal Team Six members, Secret Service agents, and even a full SWAT team. Rarely relying on guns, the near 60-year-old actor does much of his work with his fists, even battling a number of assassins aware of the Beekeeper organization.
He takes them all down in spectacular ways, and as Beekeeper begins to unfurl subtext about greed, wealth, and general debauchery among the super-wealthy, the image is that of a sick society. However, Beekeeper is too colorful to ever take a stance – it’s pure fantasy for the middle class, seeing the corrupt upper class torn apart by a soft-spoken, albeit lethal man who stands up for what’s right, legal or not. At least he’s gruesomely entertaining in performing his mission.
Fearlessly, unashamedly ridiculous, The Beekeeper is pure action cinema satisfaction.