After a few months of Oscar-Bait film binging, few things cleanse the palate better than an over-the-top action flick. Jason Statham rarely disappoints in this genre, regardless of the movie’s overall quality. Director David Ayer is no stranger to this genre, so this collaboration has the potential to bee a blast, right?
The story centers around a literal beekeeper who goes by Adam Clay (Jason Statham). He’s retired from his previous profession, a very different kind of beekeeper. He now spends his days tending to his precious colony and jarring pure, raw honey in the barn next to an elderly woman, Eloise (Phylicia Rashad). He cherishes Eloise, repeatedly mentioning how she’s the only person who has ever taken care of him.
Within the first ten minutes, Eloise becomes a victim of a phishing scam that drains not only her account but also 2 million dollars from a charity she manages. Instead of reaching out for help, she suddenly takes her own life. This sets off two paths of retribution. The Beekeeper reaches out to his old contacts and tracks down the call center that scammed her, while her estranged FBI daughter, Agent Parker (Emmy Raver-Lampman) follows behind on a more legal path. This is the moment the movie takes off while simultaneously jumping the shark.
We quickly learn (which is also disclosed in the trailers) that the Beekeepers are an organization of enforcers who, for over a century, have operated outside the law to keep the hive (society) in balance. When things go out of balance, they are activated, with “unlimited resources” to eliminate anyone who endangers the status quo. While compelling, this concept already has multiple flaws, but it’s a fun premise. Adam, though retired, considers this a personal vendetta and tracks down the call center that scammed his friend. I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen a normal call center, much less a scam call center, but they do not look like they are portrayed in this movie. Each evil call center is run by an egotistical lunatic that feels more like “Wolf of Wall Street” and New York Underground Dance Club than it should. It’s entertaining but silly.
The silly kicks into high gear once the action starts. Sure, offhand one-liners and suspensions of disbelief are to be expected, but copious amounts of bee puns? This movie literally uses the line “To bee or not to bee?” In addition to that, multiple other lines are easy to miss, like “So bee it.” To be fair, no one is coming to this movie expecting believability, but “The Beekeeper” makes the “John Wick” series seem plausible. David Ayer is obviously trying to make his version of “John Wick” with all the lore, a hidden society of assassins, and multiple action scenes, but he falls short. The action, while competent, fails to reach what we’ve seen for decades in foreign action films and sparingly in American cinema. Most of the action sequences are a causality of the editing room never spending enough time on any given shot. It’s not till the very end that we are treated to the best fight sequence, but even that is a modified take on a mirrored hallway battle.
“The Beekeeper” can be quite entertaining if you know what you’re getting yourself into. If all you want is action, silly British one-liners, bee puns, and tongue-in-cheek humor, “The Beekeeper” will hit your sweet spot. It also taught me something I never knew before. Pure honey is truly combustible!