Movie Review – Beekeeper, The (2024)

Principal Cast : Jason Statham, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Bobby Naden, Josh Hutcherson, Jeremy Irons, David Witts, Michael Epp, Taylor James, Phylicia Rashad, Jemma Redgrave, Minnie Driver, Don Gilet, Sophia Feliciano, Enzo Cilenti, Meghan Lee, Dan Li.
Synopsis: One man’s brutal campaign for vengeance takes on national stakes after he is revealed to be a former operative of a powerful and clandestine organization known as “Beekeepers”.


Although overtly The Beekeeper is another in a long line of quality John Wick clones, within the moment it never really feels like it. David Ayer’s action thriller pits a monosyllabic and monotone Jason Statham – operating at the very zenith of his wheelhouse – against a horde of faceless enemies in his quest to topple a sinister financial fraud operation buried deep within the government, and as you might imagine the action is violent, fast-paced and absent even the slightest intelligent thought: just the way I like it. This is a fun film, a bullets-and-blood opus running a tic over 90 minutes and operating at a very high ratio of screen deaths to Statham one-liners. Ayer, a director I’ve always watched out for since End Of Watch blew me away in 2012, carves a nice little time-waster that satisfies by giving all the bad guys their comeuppance (oh, spoilers I guess) and The Stath™ plenty to kick, punch, shoot and grimace at in his eminently sturdy, leading-action-man manner.

Statham plays the mysterious Adam Clay, who resides in the barn of a farm owned by retired school teacher Eloise Parker (The Cosby Show’s Phylicia Rashad), and who spends his days tending the nearby beehives and making honey. After a scam call drains her bank accounts of all their money, Eloise takes her own life in despair, leaving her FBI Agent daughter Verona (Emmy Raver-Lampman (Blacklight, Hamilton) to pick up the pieces. Upset at the loss of his friend, Clay tracks down the location of the black site call center where the scammers are operating, clears it out and blows it up. With Verona on his tail, Clary then proceeds to work his way up the chain of scam-command, eventually discovering the whole operation is run by the incredibly wealthy Derek Danforth (Josh Hutcherson), who, along with his aide Wallace Westwyld (Jeremy Irons), is placed directly in harms way of the dangerous man’s violent mission.

If you have a film titled The Beekeeper, you have to go in expecting a lot of bee-related puns and references, right? As you might expect, this heavyweight action film delivers a “man on a revenge mission” plot with the brutality and body-shredding carnage audiences continue to give their money to, and rightly so. Watching some hitherto seemingly benign man or woman absolutely wreck the shit out of bad guys flicks a vicarious fantasy switch in most people, and The Beekeeper is no different; The Stath™ plays yet another man with a special set of skills that everyone is incredibly fearful of the more about his past is uncovered, with various characters in this movie coming to the realisation that their fate is near impossible to change once Adam Clay sets his sight on you. The film’s titular reference to an apiarist unwraps a hidden, clandestine organisation of lone rogue agents who seek to “save the hive” – that is, society, by working to keep the system we operate under secure and functioning, and have liberties afforded very few other organisations. This “hive” reference is repeated a lot during the film, in order to drive home the seriousness with which all but a few refuse to take of Clay’s cross-country rampage, set in motion by modern day’s main criminal scourge, scammers.

Written by none other than Kurt Wimmer (Equilibrium, Ultraviolet), The Beekeeper is dumber than a post in terms of characterisations and world-building, but David Ayer’s direction is exemplary from an action filmmaking standpoint. The gaping holes in the film’s logic make little difference to the enjoyment of watching The Stath™ tear shit up, wading through henchman after henchman almost entirely weapons-free, and even when the film’s final act goes completely off the rails – and it does, thanks to a can’t-believe-it-twist that boggled my brain – you’ll still eat it up and love it. The Stath™ delivers his best grizzled, angry man turn yet again, and the one-two team of Emmy Raver-Lampman and Bobby Nadieri as bickering FBI agents comprises what passes for comedy relief of sorts, despite the “they killed my mom” beginning.

Yes, it echoes the “they killed his dog” inciting incident from John Wick, and yes the film bears more than a passing resemblance to Wick’s original quest to get his revenge for a wrong committed, and yes there’s a lot of gore and violence splashed across the screen before this is all done, but unlike the John Wick films Ayer inserts a real sense of sublime witty insanity to proceedings that feels more like an Alexander Payne film than a mainstream action thriller. Josh Hutcherson plays the part of the film’s primary antagonist really well, having a blast alongside a more demure Jeremy Irons (Irons again cast as the Alfred The Butler type, sadly), while Jemma Redgrave and Minnie Driver pop in for extended cameos. It must also be said, watching Taylor James sport a bothersome, thick South African accent as one of the most bizarre supporting turns in a film I’ve ever seen is an absolute joy, because when he appears on the screen you just know this film is bonkers batshit crazy and I’m all here for it.

The Beekeeper isn’t particularly smart and may lack the gravitas of Keanu Reeves’ far more celebrated assassin killing everyone anti-hero but I’ll be damned if I didn’t have more fun with this than I had with John Wick Chapter Four, a film I thought was fantastic. There’s a difference between fun and entertainment to be noted here: The Beekeeper is slick and cool and filled with terrific killshots and deaths, but it isn’t as dour as John Wick. Ayer keeps the mood relatively light once the death of Eloise happens, and it becomes almost an afterthought in many regards, while for John Wick the death of his late wife’s dog hangs over the first film for its entirety. This is perfect Saturday night brain-off entertainment that delivers a raucous amount of violence, some spectacular set-pieces and arguably Ayers outright best film since End Of Watch. Welcome back, sir, could we please have some more? This is the first film in a very long time I’ve come out of wanting to immediately watch a sequel. Highly recommended.

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