Explosive In a Non-Michael Bay Way
Date of Assessment: January 28, 2011
Positive Buzzwords: Action-packed, ass-kicking, smooth-voiced
Negative Buzzwords: Limited range, Uwe Boll
The Case: Despite our subject's refusal to branch out from his action/martial arts/heist comfort zone, at least no one could ever accuse Jason Statham of being Sam Worthington; this undeniable point of differentiation is a damn good thing because, unlike the latter, Statham possesses a powerfully potent personality and an unforgettable prowess. As a by-now-established presence on the action-movie scene, Statham has been famously compared to Steve McQueen, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Vin Diesel, and Jean Claude Van Damme. Oh, and there's one other interesting parallel that's largely been drawn by Statham himself, who has seemingly crossed the line by taking over Charles Bronson's role in a remake of The Mechanic, which either invites or negates any comparison to this action legend himself.
On that last point, we'll just have to wait for the Pajiba review for a more definitive verdict.
In the meantime, Statham's shtick may very well have grown repetitive by this date, but the man is likable and does what he does with a certain style and finesse. Statham not only "defies the laws of physics and logic with his flailing limbs and sleek operation of shiny black automobiles" while "kick[ing] some sweet, sweet ass", but he's also "an incomprehensible badass" whose very participation often forgives the fact that he generally indulges within "throwaway faux-grindhouse flair" to a point of utterly shameless ridiculousness. In regard to the relative virtue of mindless cinema, Statham is indeed a repeat offender.
Other than Statham's Guy Ritchie-directed trilogy -- Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; Snatch.; Revolver -- his career mainly consists of action flicks: The One; Mean Machine; The Transporter; Transporter 2; Transporter 3; The Italian Job (as the unforgettable Handsome Rob); Collateral; Cellular; London; Chaos; War; The Bank Job; Death Race; Crank and Crank 2: High Voltage (as Chev Chelios). Exhausting, isn't it? Somewhere in the midst of it all, he also survived a fucking Uwe Boll film (In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale). Not many actors can walk away from that sin with a clean conscience, but Statham has done so.
Just for a moment, let's return to the moment when our relatively late bloomer first surfaced. In fact, he was truly plucked from obscurity (unlike, you know, Madonna) by director Guy Ritchie himself. Ever since that fateful moment, Jason Statham has been riding the action-movie circuit; but much like his mentor, who didn't score big at the box office until 2009's Sherlock Holmes, most of Statham's movies have grossed (at least, on this side of the pond) a mere $30 million or less. The exception to this nearly steadfast rule just happens to be his two ensemble flicks, The Italian Job and The Expendables, both of which arguably exceeded the magic $100 million mark thanks to co-stars like Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, Sylvester Stallone, and Mickey Rourke. And most definitely, I had begun to worry about Statham's continued existence in Hollywood (as a commercially viable quantity) until The Expendables, which wasn't exactly the smartest movie but was a very smart career move that allowed Statham to grow his already loyal fan base. We'll see how things fare for the remainder of the year with the releases of The Mechanic and Blitz. Further on the horizon, Statham's doing nothing but more action flicks: The Killer Elite; Safe; plus the rumored The Expendables II, Potsdamer Platz, and Pretty, Baby, Machine. So if you like what you've already seen from the guy, there shall be much of the same to come.
Prognosis: Statham takes a lot of heat for his near-exclusive association within action and heist flicks. One one side of the argument, action flicks are what he's good at, so why not seize the continued opportunity? One can certainly appreciate that he hasn't branched out into romcom hell. On the other side, audiences may eventually tire of essentially watching Statham play the same role over and over again. Will he ever have to pull a Kindergarten Cop or The Pacifier? Let's hope not.
An even worse possibility is the mere rumor of Crank 3D, the very thought of which makes my eyeballs want to fall out of their sockets and scurry for cover. Incidentally and speaking of visuals, Statham has scored a slot in this week's Hot Guy Friday celebration, but moving away from the eye candy aspect of Jason Statham, he will always be able to rely upon one of his main strengths -- his fetching cockney accent or a variant thereof. That voice not only pervades much of the video game circuit but can soon be witnessed in the role of Tybalt in Gnomeo & Juliet. Stay tuned for more Statham.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at agentbedhead.com.