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Review: ‘The Beekeeper’ is a Buzz-Worthy Guilty Pleasure for Action Fans

January 10, 2024Ben MK

One of the few cinematic genres where over-the-top storylines are tolerated — and even embraced — the action genre has played host to an uncountable number of cheesy plot set-ups. From revenge thrillers centering on murdered pets to star-powered spectacles about a squad of muscle-bound, former heroes well past their prime, you'd be hard-pressed to find another film category full of as many ridiculous and cliché-packed premises. And in The Beekeeper, director David Ayer is adding one more movie to that glorious list, in this tale about a retired soldier with a giant axe to grind.

Set in the insidious world of cyber scams and organized crime, the story follows Adam Clay (Jason Statham), a former mercenary turned humble beekeeper who now spends his days tending to his hive. However, when his good friend and landlord, Eloise Parker (Phylicia Rashad), falls victim to a ransomware scheme that drains her entire life savings, Adam is forced to come out of retirement and take matters into his own hands. Armed with his own particular set of deadly skills, Adam makes short work of the offices of United Data Group, the Massachusetts-based call center run by a mob-affiliated scumbag named Mickey Garnett (David Witts), who happens to be personally responsible for Eloise's situation. What Adam never imagined, though, is just how high up the chain of command the criminal network he plans to expose goes. And when word of his actions reaches the ears of Derek Danforth (Josh Hutcherson), it sparks a firestorm that threatens to rock the entire country to its core.

The 28-year-old, sleazebag son of the recently sworn-in President of the United States, Jessica Danforth (Jemma Redgrave), Derek has made a fortune in dirty money by repurposing CIA data-mining software to serve the needs of his own sprawling criminal enterprise, making him the head of a nationwide network of cyber criminals. Unbeknownst to him, however, Adam is no ordinary soldier, but rather a part of a highly classified government program aimed at turning ordinary people into extreme lethal living weapons. And when Adam learns that the criminals he's after have corrupted not just the city he calls home, but the uppermost echelons of the U.S. government, nothing and no one — not even former CIA director Wallace WestWyld (Jeremy Irons) or Eloise's own daughter, FBI agent Verona Parker (Emmy Raver-Lampman) — will be able to stop him.

Written by Kurt Wimmer, whose 2002 cult classic, Equilibrium, introduced unsuspecting moviegoers to the cool-as-hell concept of gun kata, the result delivers precisely what you might expect from a film that appears to have been expressly written just to give Statham an excuse to do what he does best. Still, that's not to say that's actually a terrible thing. And for viewers who go into The Beekeeper expecting little more than an outlandish storyline, action-packed set piece after action-packed set piece, and plenty of bee-related puns, there's no shortage of crowd-pleasing moments to keep die-hard genre fans entertained — even if unintentionally.

Call it B-movie filmmaking or call it peak Statham, The Beekeeper won't be winning any prestigious accolades anytime soon. What it does do exceedingly well, on the other hand, is scratch any itch moviegoers may have for bone-breaking action, ludicrous plot twists and cheesy one-liners. And with the new year just having gotten started, there's no more buzz-worthy way to help kick it off than with this guilty pleasure.

The Beekeeper releases January 12th, 2024 from VVS Films. The film has an MPAA rating of R for strong violence throughout, pervasive language, some sexual references and drug use. Its runtime is 1 hr. 45 min.

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