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Review: The Beekeeper (2024)

The Beekeeper (2024)

Directed by: David Ayer

Premise: A woman commits suicide after losing her life savings to internet scammers. Her friend (Jason Statham), a beekeeper with a mysterious past, goes after the con artists and uncovers a larger criminal enterprise.

What Works: Action movies about rogue heroes typically depend on creating a feeling of righteous indignation. Injustice compels the hero to act, usually outside the system, and the satisfaction viewers get from the movie is relative to the righteous indignation that the story incites. The Beekeeper does this quite well. The filmmakers exploit our sentimental feelings about the elderly and the way well-meaning people are targeted by con artists. That creates permission for the action hero, played by Jason Statham, to seek justice and for the audience to enjoy the violence. It also helps that Statham’s character is a bit reluctant to be violent. Reiterating a popular trope of these films, the hero has retired from a career of violence and lives a quiet life only to be drawn back to use his skill set for justice. The action set pieces of The Beekeeper are done well. The action maintains a credible scale while allowing for some creativity. It’s brutal in a way that is satisfying.

What Doesn’t: The Beekeeper attempts to break out of the usual lone hero formula but every way the film tries to do that comes up short. The story includes a pair of FBI agents investigating Statham’s character but they don’t actually do much of anything. They could be cut out of the story without changing the outcome. It’s revealed that Statham’s character was part of an elite group of assassins whose purpose was to act outside the law and use assassination to protect and preserve society, including striking at social and government institutions that had been corrupted. It’s further revealed that the criminal conspiracy is at a nexus between the national security state, big tech, and the federal government. The Beekeeper verges on doing something smart or subversive or even dangerous but it doesn’t follow through. Essentially this is a more polished version of Uwe Boll’s Rampage films but The Beekeeper is less daring or interesting. Statham’s character comes up against soldiers and law enforcement but he only beats them up and instead the hero is supplied with private security guards who he does kill because this is somehow more acceptable. That tension exemplifies the filmmakers’ unwillingness to do anything challenging and the political angle is underdeveloped.

Bottom Line: The Beekeeper is frustrating because it is so close to doing something provocative but the filmmakers lose their nerve. It’s ultimately a standard Jason Statham shoot-’em-up movie that we’ve seen before.

Episode: #985 (February 18, 2024)