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"The Beekeeper" 4K Review

 I had no intention of watching Jason Statham's latest take butts and kick names action flick, The Beekeeper, until I watched Dan Murrell's absolutely hilarious review where he grappled with just how bonkers and simultaneously terrible AND awesome it was. He's usually pretty sober in his reviews, but when he said that "It's the kind of movie that makes you feel insane while you're watching it....It's the kind of movie that should never come out and also be released five times a year. It is one of the worst movies that I will definitely watch 30 more times in my life." I just had to see what made him give it a split score of Don't Bother AND Go See It! He seemed desperate to find others to discuss this thing with, so I volunteered as tribute along with the missus who has seen even more Statham movies than I have (she likes 'em gruff) and, well, it's certainly a movie alright.

Statham is Adam Clay, a beekeeper who rents barn space from a widow, Eloise (Phylicia Rashad), to process his hives' honey. After clearing a hornets nest from the barn, she invites him to dinner. Before dinner time, she gets on her laptop and it hit with ransomware warning her hard drive is infected and directing her to call a phone number which she does. (Uh-oh.) It connects her to an office which looks like a hybrid dance club and videogame LAN party where she is manipulated into installing a Trojan which immediately allows the hackers to zero out all her bank accounts including a charity fund with over $2 million in it.

Once she realizes she's been robbed, she immediately calls the bank to report it. Just kidding! No, she commits suicide. (Not kidding.) When Statham arrives for dinner, hearing the smoke alarm, he lets himself in and just as he's about to discover Eloise's body is caught by her FBI Agent daughter, Verona (Emmy Raver-Lampman, The Umbrella Academy). (If you're wondering why she didn't call her law enforcer daughter instead of killing herself, this will not be the last basic details question you'll be asking along with why was the daughter there in the first place.)

After he is cleared of killing Eloise, he meets with Verona who says that these hackers have been known to the FBI for years, but they can't figure out who they are. Luckily for her, Adam is not just a beekeeper, but a retired Beekeeper, an elite agent of a spy program so secret that the CIA doesn't really know about them. He calls into his old work and immediately gets the number and location of the call center where Eloise called. He goes there with a pair of gas cans and torches the place on his way towards finding the kingpin of scammers, a weaselly tech bro, Derek (Josh Hutcherson, The Hunger Games), who is babysat as a favor to his mother by former CIA Director Wallace (Jeremy Irons) as director of corporate security.

As he closes in on his target, the levels of action and plot twists increase rapidly to the point where he's taking on FBI squads bare-handed and the revelation in the third act of who Derek's mother is cranks the bananas knob to 12.

 Statham has made so many of these action flicks that he can do them in his sleep and frankly for much of the movie, he is so low key in his performance as he mutters about "protecting the hive" - a metaphor for society itself - he may be sleepwalking through this performance. That's not to say he doesn't kick much butt, but that it's oddly subdued.

 Writer Kurt Wimmer (Equilibrium, Salt, Total Recall (2012)) and director David Ayer (Fury, Suicide Squad - the first one) have a lot of moderately crowd-pleasing pictures on their resume, so that The Beekeeper seems like a low budget knockoff of the movies they've made feels off.

 But what makes The Beekeeper watchable is just how bonkers it gets at points. It makes one wish they'd gone even MORE over the top in the action, though to be fair John Wick movies occupy so much mindshare for bar-raising action perhaps it's not worth trying to compete at that level. Even as you repeatedly wonder why no one seems to do a realistic thing in these situations - like why is an FBI Agent allowed to lead an investigation regarding a man whose rampage seems triggered by her mother's suicide or how come Minnie Driver is playing the current CIA Director, but for only two scenes? - there's some satisfyingly visceral kills and quips and to be honest, ransomware hackers who prey upon the technically naive deserve to get whupped down by a grouchy Jason Statham.

From a technical perspective, the 4K HDR presentation doesn't really do much to merit the upcharge, so watching in standard HD/Blu-ray is fine.

I don't want to file The Beekeeper under the So Bad It's Good category. It's more like Ayer's cursed Suicide Squad - which to be fair was recut by a frightened studio into a mishmash (#ReleaseTheAyerCut) - which by all objective measures wasn't a very good movie, yet was watchable and entertaining and I don't just mean Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn hot pants outfit. Cable TV used to be filled with rainy weekend day action fluff like The Beekeeper and if you approach it expecting more fun than verisimilitude, you'll be fine.

Score: 7/10. Catch it on cable/streaming.


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