Jason Statham – The Last Action Hero?

Is Jason Statham the last action hero? He’s a one-man fighting machine so what should we expect from his movies and is it ok to judge him?

Jason Statham is the ultimate tough guy. He has the brawn and he knows it.

If you go to see a Jason Statham movie, you know what to expect; fighting action, car-chase action, possibly/ probably a shoot-out and a love interest (perhaps). Statham embodies everything that is an action hero, so don’t be disappointed when you go to see his latest movie and it lacks a real story or the script is so outrageously unbelievable you want to cry. This is the most guaranteed pre-conception of any Statham movie and if you go looking for anything else you’re a fool. But don’t let that put you off. As entertainment value goes, Statham is up there. His fancy kicking, cheesy lines and brute force, believe it or not, are in high demand.

Let’s take a closer look at one of his earlier movies; Crank (2006).

This movie should in no way to be taken seriously. If you bothered to read the premise, you’d instantly know what you were in for. That’s not to say it doesn’t provide fun entertainment for the viewer! Statham plays an assassin who has been injected by his nemesis with a poison that will kill him if his heart rate drops. As you can imagine the entire movie consists of a lot of running around and “strenuous” activities.

So we can all agree on what a Statham movie will provide. However, a bad script can kill a movie, so what makes him such a success? For a start, the target audience of a Statham movie is the teenage boy. It’s easy to see why such movies don’t require an in-depth story to grip the viewer. They’ve clearly gone to watch action and know that Statham with deliver. He’s like the paint can that ‘does what it says on the tin’. But are we being too harsh in judging Statham so unequivocally? What more is there to consider? Let’s break it down:

  • The Transporter (2002) – Statham effectively plays a courier who asks no questions about what he’s transporting and then gets caught up in a human trafficking ring when a client tries to “take him out”. Plenty of action, fighting and shooting scenes.
  • The Bank Job (2008) – As you’ve guessed, this is about a heist, however, the twist is Statham and his crew get caught up in a web of corruption and illicit scandal, concerning the contents of some safety deposit boxes.
  • The Mechanic (2011) – Statham portrays another assassin. This time he is teaching an apprentice the tricks of the trade.
  • Blitz (2011) – This time Statham isn’t the criminal but plays a tough cop hunting a serial killer. However, his character is so unbelievably badly behaved (to put it mildly) that in the real world he’d be sacked and arrested for gross misconduct, amongst other things. He is effectively a one man law-fighting machine that does what he wants disregarding all rules (sound like any cop you know?).
  • Killer Elite (2011) – Statham plays a retired British Elite Special Air Service Member, who is forced into action when his mentor is taken captive. As you can imagine, Statham plays a man on a revenge mission but again the audience will root for him because his mission is just.
  • Safe (2012) – Statham plays an ex-cage fighter (need we go on?) who comes to the aid of a young girl who is being pursued by the Triads and the Russian mob due to a numerical code she has memorised.

This is just a handful of the movies Statham has been in but there seems to be a clear pattern. Perhaps he has an assassin complex? Are we now to believe that there are assassins running all over the place but that we shouldn’t worry because deep down they mean well? Well, if this is true and you happen across one we doubt you’ll be heard from again.

So what can be expected from the latest Statham instalment; Parker (2013)? This movie is about a thief (Statham) who is double crossed by his crew and left for dead. Obviously he goes out for revenge using brute force, cheesy lines and gripping action scenes. At one point Parker says “I don’t steal from anyone who can’t afford it, and I don’t hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it”. Despite the fact that Statham is playing a thief, the audience is led to sympathise with him because there’s a positive spin on his character. Whether you realise it or not, Parker becomes the good guy, the hero of the story that everyone roots for. This is a classic character trait in many of the movies Statham stars in. Parker is everything we have come to expect from a Statham movie and on this basis alone, it doesn’t disappoint.

By Chantelle Kearton

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