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Review: The Beekeeper

Here we are well into January, the standard rough time of year at the movies, with David Ayer's The Beekeeper. Something is comforting about this Jason Statham rip-off of John Wick, even if it doesn't have a cohesive plot and may have some extremist political undertones. This silly action film acts as a palette cleanser of stupidity. Ayer and screenwriter Kirt Wimmer know to lean into the outrageous qualities.

The plot is consistently complicated by a failed attempt at mythology but at its core, it is a simple revenge tale that allows Statham to kill a slew of annoying baddies. The inciting incident here involves a saintly, widowed former schoolteacher (Phylicia Rashad) who is scammed out of all her savings. The phishing scam that gets her is ridiculously obvious but nevertheless, the damage is enough for her to shoot and kill herself. Adam Clay (Statham) rents a barn from her for his bees. He vows to kill everyone responsible and unlucky for them, he's a former secret agent for a secret group called the Beekeepers.

Adam, who speaks in bee-related metaphors, sets out on a rampage as he hunts down the head boss of the scamming ring Derek Danforth (a smug Josh Hutcherson). His first step is to find the call center that scammed his surrogate grandma. It takes him mere moments to track them down, beat up some security guards, and burn the place down. He disposes of the head of the call center by tying him to a truck and sending it over the edge of a bridge. From there the rest of the movie just keeps throwing new baddies at Adam as he gets closer to the top. Along the way we get Jeremy Irons and Minnie Driver trying to add a bit of class to the whole thing. The joy here is mostly watching Statham kick and punch and kill a bunch of people.

The film has no idea what to do with Special Agent Verona Parker(Emmy Raver-Lampman) whose mother was the one who committed suicide. You wouldn't know it as Rever-Lampman's performance is oddly sarcastic and cool. Her partner Wiley (Bobby Naderi) and she are always one step behind Adam's trail. Their plot line only adds to the script's confused world-building.

The other element that sours the fun a bit here is the morality of Adam's mission. I won't spoil the film's big twist but it places the film in odd territory so close to the anniversary of the January 6th insurrection. It is easy enough to look away from these elements but it was hard not to wonder what the screenwriter's politics are. That's enough said about that, back to the fun.

The action choreography in The Beekeeper is pretty standard, but it's often set in ridiculous situations, giving the film its own flavor. There is a go-for-broke quality to where the action scenes go that I really enjoyed. Coupled with Statham, who is such a likable action star, The Beekeeper is a fine time at the movies here in January.



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