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'The Beekeeper' review: Jason Statham swarms the bad guys in decent action flick

Courtesy of MGM


Maybe it’s the expectation all action movie released in January are destined for the Wal-Mart bargain bin, or perhaps it’s the ability to let loose and embrace the B-movie Jason Bourne crossbred with “John Wick” mentality that makes “The Beekeeper,” a new Jason Statham bare knuckle brawl vehicle, something worth indulging in. Any movie that can brandish the prolific British actor saying, with all seriousness, “I attend to bee’s” while being interrogated by police officers, followed by several puns, including a big baddie gleefully declaring “To bee or not to bee, that is the bloody question” in the middle of a violent altercation is almost worthy enough to win a Pulitzer Prize.

Of course, David Ayer’s “The Beekeeper” is too derivative to win any prizes, but it sure does get style points in execution. Screenwriter Kurt Wimmer doesn’t really care about logic, though the main plot features all kinds of batsshit craziness that, spoiler alert, goes as far as the presidency of the United States (!) It’s that inspired plotting which separates “The Beekeeper” from the countless “John Wick” imitators that have come on the market and, oddly enough, makes a strong case for its existence. Understanding exactly what type of movie he’s in, Statham plays Adam Clay who, in the cold open, is, yes, attending to his beehive and making honey. He rents a shed from retired schoolteacher Eloise (Phylicia Rashad) and the two have a copasetic relationship. He brings her jars of honey on occasion.

In a blistering cold open, we watch as Eloise is swindled by fraudsters and inadvertently allows them access into her computer where they siphon all the money from her accounts, leaving her with nothing. That night, she puts a bullet in her head, and it emboldens Adam to find the culprits behind the cyber-attack and, you’ll be shocked to know, he’s not just your average beekeeper, he used to be a government asset for hire. 

And now, in a personal vendetta, he must protect the hive. Meanwhile, Eloise’s FBI agent daughter (Emmy Raver-Lampman) is trying to stop the crusade, which involves a wannabe Elon Musk frat boy type played by a totally game Josh Hutcherson and the great Jeremy Irons whose character has a history of dealing with beekeepers. 


“The Beekeeper” is sprinkled with all kinds of corny dialogue (“Taking from an elderly person is as bad as stealing from a child…maybe worse!”) while also trying to explain the mythology behind beekeepers. Outside the realm of his franchise projects, Statham has shown considerable range (see “Wrath of Man“ and “Operation Fortune”) and he seems to be having a good time working alongside Ayer, who also thrives in these smaller scale action flicks. 

The trashy aesthetic ends up working in this movie’s favor, including a final bloody smackdown that comes very close to channeling “John Wick.” It proves there’s plenty of meat, er, honey, left on the bone for a possible franchise and usually that’s the death knell for a film of this caliber (one decent entry and the rest are garbage). But for “The Beekeeper,” you almost want to see where this could go and what other crazy situations Ayer and Wimmewr can manifest. Here’s hoping we don’t get stung. 

Grade: B- 

THE BEEKEEPER is now playing in theaters. 


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