The Beekeeper (2024) Review – A Laboured Jason Statham Action Vehicle

If you look at the honey-coloured poster of the rugged-looking Jason Statham in a beekeeping jacket slowly morphed into a swarm of bees, it does suggest the action star breaking out of his comfort zone in The Beekeeper.

Well, how I wish that would be the case but The Beekeeper marks yet another typical Jason Statham action vehicle we have seen many times before. He plays Adam Clay and at the beginning, we see him working as a beekeeper who lives on a Massachusetts farmland. He’s passionate about what he does and he has a nice neighbour named Eloise Parker (Phylicia Rashad), where they are like good friends looking out for each other.

When Eloise becomes an unfortunate victim of a phishing scam that empties all her bank and charity accounts and even her life savings, she ends up committing suicide. The movie does get off to a promising start and after Adam discovers her body, he determines to track down whoever is responsible for scamming Eloise. It sure reminds me of a John Wick-like revenge quest as he goes full Jason Statham mode — all brooding, kills-first-asks-question-later action hero.

The rest of the movie is a standard genre picture as we learn the phishing scam has to do with the data-mining call centres run by tech mogul Derek Danforth (Josh Hutcherson) of the highly influential Danforth Enterprises. Her mother Jessica (Jemma Redgrave) isn’t only the founder but also happens to be the most powerful political figure in the world — the President of the United States of America. Former CIA director Wallace Westwyld (Jeremy Irons), who is now working for Derek, is tasked to help him clean up the mess. And that is, enlisting the help of the CIA director Janet Harward (Minnie Driver) and later, recruiting a group of mercenaries from different special forces units to take down the seemingly unstoppable Adam Clay.

As it turns out, the title also refers to the top-secret government agency known as Beekeepers and Clay happens to be one of them, who is now retired and has since lived a quiet life. But Eloise’s death prompted him to revert to his old ways, taking down the whole organisation at all costs. Complicating matters is Eloise’s FBI agent-daughter, Verona (Emmy Raver-Lampman), who disagrees with Clay’s personal vendetta type of justice.

Jason Statham and Jeremy Irons in "The Beekeeper" (2024)

Frankly, it would be nice if David Ayer stuck to the lean and straightforward revenge quest of Clay taking his enemies down. But Kurt Wimmer’s screenplay is unnecessarily padded out with attempted moments of bee-related puns (“To bee or not to bee” is one of them) and even bee-related metaphors (at one point, we see Jeremy Irons’ Wallace spewing out the ideology and exposition behind the Beekeepers organisation to his mercenaries).

The movie also wants us to suspend our disbelief. Like a lot and generally, I’m fine with the suspension of disbelief when comes to enjoying the action genre since I grew up watching the likes of Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Chuck Norris movies during their heydays. But the vast silliness of the story in The Beekeeper is simply, well, unforgivably dumb and cheesy.

And let’s not forget that nagging feeling of Statham dispatching his enemies like it was a walk in the park. There are little to zero stakes involved here and even the appearance of an active Beekeeper operative barely made any difference. The latter, played by Megan Le as Anisette, sports a curious ’80s-style hairdo and bright clothes as if her character jumps out from a comic-book strip. Or someone from a John Wick universe and here lies the problem: it looks tonally inconsistent from the mostly grounded action genre that we have grown accustomed to in the usual Statham movies.

The action, in the meantime, is a mixed bag. Some are nicely choreographed while others seem to be hastily shot and put together. There’s one particular scene I do enjoy the most: a brutal fight-to-the-death set piece between Clay and an angry, bleached-blonde mercenary. As for the cast, it’s the same old don’t-mess-with-me Statham while the rest, namely Josh Hutcherson does quite an impression playing the spoiled brat Derek Danforth and Phylicia Rashad pulls off an above-average small role as the kindly neighbour Eloise.