Every great action film needs three things: A main character who’s badass yet relatable, enough action set pieces to get that adrenaline pumping, and most importantly, bee puns. That might be a tad specific, but come on, what film wouldn’t be ten times better if the main character said random bee puns throughout its runtime? We don’t have to wonder anymore because The Beekeeper shows us that even a decent action blockbuster can become something amazing with a few puns thrown into the mix. Directed by David Ayer and starring Jason Statham, The Beekeeper has surprisingly good action, a decent enough story and some quality bee-keeping fun to boot (even if I think they could’ve had more).
The Beekeeper is the story of Adam Clay, a beekeeper who lives in the barn of a retired schoolteacher named Eloise Parker. In exchange for being able to live in her barn and tend to his bees, Clay helps Eloise with daily tasks and even gifts her some of the honey from his bees (what a stand-up guy). It’s not all bees and honey, though, as Eloise falls victim to an online scam and has all her money stolen. Devastated at this loss, Eloise makes a life-altering decision (more like life-ending), and now Clay is out for vengeance. It turns out that Clay is a former beekeeper, not the normal kind, the John Wick killing kind. Clay has the skills and knowledge to track down the people who wronged Eloise, and he isn’t gonna stop until they’re dead.
For a film titled The Beekeeper, I didn’t know what to expect from this story, but I sure as shit wasn’t expecting a suicide in the first ten minutes (it even caused me to gasp in the cinema). I’m glad that they subverted my minimal expectations for this story because it made the relatively generic revenge plot a bit more interesting. If you’ve seen a Jason Statham film before, you know how this is going to play out. Something terrible happens to a loved one, and he swears revenge, is apparently a killing machine, and ends up fighting a morally corrupt British guy (aren’t they all) and his boss. For the most part, this story doesn’t do anything new, and that’s ok because that initial shock value and cast give this story a much-needed boost.
For being a January action film about a beekeeper, this cast has some pretty big names who all do a really good job. Jason Statham as Adam Clay is calm, collected, and unwavering in his pursuit of revenge (so your standard Statham performance). He knows how to play this type of character, and he does it well. A fun detail I noticed is that at the beginning of the film, he sounded like he was doing an American accent, but as the film progressed, he dropped it and returned to his normal voice. This could mean one of two things: this was an intentional choice to showcase Clay slipping into old habits and his old persona, or he just gave up and didn’t want to do the accent anymore. I could’ve also just been hearing things wrong, which wouldn’t surprise me.
Someone who definitely wasn’t putting on any accents in this film was the always-entertaining Jeremy Irons. Irons plays Wallace Westwyld, the head of security for Danforth Enterprises (the evil company), which is run by Derek Danforth, who’s played by Josh Hutcherson of all people (insert whistle joke here). These two were the main reasons I wanted to check out this film. When I saw them in the trailer alongside Statham, I couldn’t help but laugh and get excited. Both actors understand the type of film this is, and it shows that they’re both just having fun. Irons is also playing another version of himself, but that’s ok because who doesn’t like Jeremy Irons? Hutcherson, on the other hand, plays the douchey rich kid scarily well. I kinda want to see him take on more villain roles, ideally with less rich kid energy.
Without a doubt, the best aspect of The Beekeeper is the action, and lucky for us, there’s a lot of it. As a veteran of the action blockbuster, Jason Statham puts on a masterclass of how to do a fight scene right. But it’s not just your typical fisticuffs and guns; Statham and Ayer have gone to great lengths to make each action scene feel unique. There are times when Clay stalks his enemies through a building, lights gasoline on fire to explode a building, uses various machines to torture and kill douchebags, and sets a person on fire with honey (I didn’t know honey was flammable). But out of all the action scenes in this film, the best is right at the end. The final fight is not only visceral and hard-hitting, it’s also shot really well. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen and was a tad sad when the fight concluded.
What I wasn’t sad about was the amount of practical effects used to make each fight scene feel more impactful. You haven’t seen a proper fight until you’ve seen someone get a pipe through their neck, bite so hard that a tooth shoots out, and so many severed fingers you could make a necklace (actually, don’t do that, that’s gross). The Beekeeper doesn’t shy away from showing these violent acts, and the film is all the better for it. These scenes also help you forget about the generic story and will ensure that you leave the cinema saying, “That wasn’t terrible.”
The Beekeeper is a perfectly average film, elevated by fun characters and stellar action. The generic story leaves a bit to be desired, but who needs a plot when you’ve got a beekeeper kicking ass. The fight scenes are top-notch, and the visual effects are outstanding. Unfortunately, the lacklustre story and side cast that didn’t leave an impression kept this film from being better than good, but it was still a fun watch that I would happily experience again when it comes on the TV at 2 in the morning (could’ve used a few more bee puns though).
Have you seen The Beekeeper? What did you think? What fight was your favourite? Let us know in the comments where we can talk all things, Jason Statham.