'The Beekeeper' Review
January 10, 2024
It’s only the second week of January and 2024 already has its best bad movie of the year. The Beekeeper is a downright terrible on any “objective” scale; cheesily written, stupidly conceived, overly serious, acting so hammy it might as well be served for Christmas dinner, and a mountain of ludicrous twists and turns that leave you howling in disbelief. It’s everything I wanted and more in January, a month known for being a haven to the unwanted offspring of major studios (see Monster Trucks, Dolittle, and the already-forgotten Night Swim).
Jason Statham plays… Jason Statham (obviously). But more specifically, he plays Adam Clay, who is both a retired and current beekeeper. How does that work, you ask? Well, he’s a current beekeeper in the literal sense that he keeps bees on a farm, one owned by Eloise Parker (Phylicia Rashad). Both of them have their own little slice of heaven, a quiet life cut off from the modern world. But that heaven becomes hell once Eloise is the victim of an online scam. You know, those ones where you get an email from a Nigerian Prince who will pay you $1 million in the future if you just send him $10,000 today? Except this time the predator is not a foreign dignitary, but a bunch of “crypto bros” who’ve watched The Wolf of Wall Street too many times without getting the point. They steal everything, including the $2 million in an account Eloise manages for a children’s charity (those bastards!).
This is where Adam being a retired beekeeper comes into play. A beekeeper is a sort of super assassin given carte blanche by the US government to carry out whatever acts they determine are necessary to “maintain the hive.” Things were always professional with Adam, but now they’ve made it personal. And when a beekeeper has their sights set on you, it’s near-certain the only way to escape is through a body bag.
Having a James Bond/John Wick super-spy called a “beekeeper” is only the tip of the iceberg in the mountain of lunacy that is Kurt Wimmer’s script. I’d challenge you to take a shot every time Statham drops the word “the hive” or says “I’m just a beekeeper,” but that would make me liable for an alcohol-related death. To be honest, cutting a shot down to just a sip would still be dangerous. Wimmer must also be a card-carrying member of AARP as the movie stops dead in its tracks for Statham to speechify about how scamming the elderly is worse than robbing children, as kids have their parents to look after them. There’s even a one-liner about estate planning before a bad guy gets flung to his death.
Wimmer and director David Ayer (yes, the director of Suicide Squad, which this movie proudly advertises as a badge of honor) try to craft a message around Adam being a Robin Hood figure who is fighting for the little guys. Though the concept of a relentless killing machine chopping his way through a bunch of preppy douchebags for “the people” is so hilariously undercooked and poorly thought out that it nears parody. A second-act twist about the real occupation of a supporting character does muddy the morality and almost makes Wimmer and Ayer’s stance feel a little dangerous, but the threat of a Joker-esque situation that rallies the incels is nonexistent on account of the shark-jumping that immediately proceeds it.
There’s no need to comment on Statham’s performance, as you get exactly what you expected (and likely came for). Jeremy Irons is too old for this shit and having fun with that fact, lighting up every scene he shares with Josh Hutcherson playing the most punchable little shit to hit the screen in quite some time. Even Minnie Driver shows up for ninety seconds to widen her eyes and act terrified once she learns that a beekeeper is on the loose.
The Beekeeper is what mindless action movies should strive for, although I’m not sure Wimmer and Ayer would be able to share how they’ve crafted a movie that is both self-aware and totally oblivious to being so bad it’s good. Hey, even a blind squirrel can find a nut every once in a while.