Combustible Celluloid Review - The Beekeeper (2024), Kurt Wimmer, David Ayer, Jason Statham, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Bobby Naderi, Josh Hutcherson, Jeremy Irons, David Witts, Michael Epp, Taylor James, Phylicia Rashad, Jemma Redgrave, Minnie Driver, Don Gilet, Sophia Feliciano, Enzo Cilenti
Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Jason Statham, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Bobby Naderi, Josh Hutcherson, Jeremy Irons, David Witts, Michael Epp, Taylor James, Phylicia Rashad, Jemma Redgrave, Minnie Driver, Don Gilet, Sophia Feliciano, Enzo Cilenti
Written by: Kurt Wimmer
Directed by: David Ayer
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence throughout, pervasive language, some sexual references and drug use
Running Time: 105
Date: 01/12/2024
IMDB

The Beekeeper (2024)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buzz Kill

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

It's yet another violent John Wick-type revenge story, but it's a good one; the filmmakers flesh it out, enriching and humanizing it with interesting supporting characters and motivations.

Adam Clay (Jason Statham) lives a quiet existence, renting a little space and tending bees on a ranch owned by Eloise Parker (Phylicia Rashad). But when Eloise is hit by online scammers and robbed of her life savings, she takes her own life. Clay, who once worked for a secret organization of highly skilled operatives, begins searching for those responsible.

He finds a crooked call center and literally burns it down. But he also learns that the corruption goes even further up the ladder, to the wealthy and powerful businessman Derek Danforth (Josh Hutcherson), who may be untouchable. Meanwhile, Eloise's daughter, FBI agent Verona (Emmy Raver-Lampman) and her partner Wiley (Bobby Naderi) are on Clay's trail.

The Beekeeper starts like a normal Statham movie, establishing his connection to the Rashad character, but before long comes the harrowing sequence in which we see, detail by detail, just how she succumbs to fraud.

When Verona comes into the picture, things get interesting. She's something of a mess, drinks too much, shares a teasing banter with her partner, and is torn up about her mother. She knows her job is to stop Clay from his killing spree, but, on the other hand, Clay is exacting revenge for her.

Jeremy Irons adds another great layer as Danforth's security man; he knows he has corrupted his soul, taking a no-good job for a lot of money, but he still follows through. Even the call center bosses, shouting vulgar encouragements to their thieving employees, feel like fully-dimensional characters.

Ironically, it's the Clay character that falls on a clunky metaphor. His secret organization is known as the "Beekeepers," but he's also a literal beekeeper and uses beekeeping terminology to justify his vengeance. It doesn't quite work, but regardless, Statham is very good at this kind of thing, and he gives us an unstoppable killing machine who lets us know that, indeed, he's only seemingly unstoppable.

Directed by David Ayer, The Beekeeper is perhaps not quite up to the level of Ayer's End of Watch or Fury, but it's surprisingly sharp and surprisingly fun.

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