Review: ‘The Beekeeper’ (2024), starring Jason Statham

January 23, 2024

by Carla Hay

Jason Statham and Jeremy Irons in “The Beekeeper” (Photo by Daniel Smith/Amazon MGM Studios)

“The Beekeeper” (2024)

Directed by David Ayer

Culture Representation: Taking place in Boston, the action film “The Beekeeper” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with some African Americans, Latinos and Asians) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A beekeeper with assassin skills goes after the online financial scammers who caused his hive landlord to commit suicide after she lost all of her money to their theft.

Culture Audience: “The Beekeeper” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of Jason Statham and action films that don’t take themselves seriously.

Josh Hutcherson in “The Beekeeper” (Photo by Daniel Smith/Amazon MGM Studios)

“The Beekeeper” is a slapstick-styled action film that laughs at itself as much as it wants the audience to laugh at the movie. The vigilante beekeeper in the story delivers more cheesiness than honey, but it works well-enough for escapist entertainment. The comedic element saves this movie from being a bottom-of-the-barrel schlockfest.

Directed by David Ayer and written by Kurt Wimmer, “The Beekeeper” begins by showing the movie’s namesake Adam Clay (played by Statham) in the Boston area. He is tending to his bees on a semi-remote ranch owned by a widow named Eloise Parker (played by Phylicia Rashad), who is renting space on her property for Adam to have his bee business. Adam and Eloise have a mutually respectful relationship. Adam is the strong and silent type, but he has a very good rapport with Eloise, who looks out for him as if Adam were her own child.

One day, Eloise is on her laptop computer when she gets an urgent message on her screen saying that her computer has had a security breach and she should call the emergency phone number on the screen. She reaches a call center, where she talks to a slick manager who offers to help Eloise with her problem. What Eloise doesn’t know is that this manager, whose name is Mickey Garnett (played by David Witts), is really the sleazy supervisor of a financial fraud group that makes millions of dollars per month.

At this moment, Mickey is using his phone call with Eloise as a live example in training the call center’s minions, who all know they’re in the business of stealing from victims, especially gullible senior citizens. Eloise admits she’s not very good at using computers, so she lets Mickey walk her through a step-by-step process to let him get access to her computer. During this process, Mickey is smirking and bragging to his trainees about how Eloise is a perfect target.

It isn’t long before Mickey has hacked into all the bank accounts that Eloise has access to, including a community account that has $2 million. The community account is for a children’s charity where Eloise is the director who is a signatory authority. Mickey quickly steals all of the money in Eloise’s personal bank accounts and the community account, through a electronic transfers that she would not be able to trace. Eloise is completely devastated when she finds out what happened.

The next scene shows an FBI agent named Verona Parker (played by Emmy Raver-Lampman) arriving at Eloise’s darkened house and seeing Adam there with a knife. Verona, who doesn’t know who Adam is, immediately gets suspicious and demands to know what he’s doing there. And that’s when Adam and Verona look nearby and see Eloise dead from a gunshot wound and the gun lying next to her on the floor.

Adam is immediately placed under arrest, even though he insists that he had nothing to do with Eloise’s death. He explains that Eloise was his landlord for his beekeeper business and he would have no reason to harm her. It turns out that Verona is Eloise’s daughter, who was visiting to check up on Eloise after not hearing from her for a while.

A coroner’s report officially rules Eloise’s death as a suicide, so Adam is released from jail. Around the same time, Verona and Adam find out that the motive for Eloise’s suicide was that she felt overwhelming guilt and shame for losing not only all of her money but also the charity’s money. And you know what that means: Verona and Adam both want to find the scam leaders and get justice. However, Verona and Adam both have very different definitions of “justice.”

What’s a vigilante like Adam to do in a crass and violent action movie? He find outs the address of the call center and goes there to burn it down, of course. Adam shows up at the glassy office building with two cans of gas and some lighter fluid. Two security guards are there, but that doesn’t stop Adam. Some of this scene is already revealed in “The Beekeeper” trailer.

It’s enough to say that a lot of mayhem and madness ensue, including Adam causing terror in the call center and making the workers chant, “I will never prey on the weak and vulnerable again.” Adam becomes a one-man revenge army who can implausibly taken on several different opponents at the same time. It’s over-the-top ridiculous and hilarious at the same time.

Mickey isn’t the highest-ranking person in the financial fraud group. His boss is the group leader, a spoiled, rich brat named Derek Danforth (played by Josh Hutcherson), who is the heir to a Boston-based corporation called Danforth Enterprises. Derek’s widowed mother Jessica Danforth (played by Jemma Redgrave) is the president of Danforth Enterprises. (“The Beekeeper” was actually filmed in Boston and London.)

Danforth Enterprises has a fixer named Wallace Westwyld (played by Jeremy Irons), a former CIA director who is tasked with looking after Derek and getting him out of trouble. It’s hinted that Wallace and Jessica used to be romantically involved with each other, because Wallace acts almost like a stepfather to Derek. Wallace, who is very intuitive and jaded, is aware that Derek is involved in illegal activities, but Wallace doesn’t really want to hear the details unless he needs to know.

Derek is a habitual troublemaker, so he’s been keeping Wallace busy. And soon, Adam will be keeping Wallace busy too. Meanwhile, Verona is hot on the trail to bring down Derek’s fraud empire, but she’s in a race against time with Adam, who wants to get to Derek and his cronies first. You know how all of this is gong to end.

Why does this beekeeper have such amazing combat skills? That question is answered in the movie. It should come as no surprise that Adam as a big secret. Someone who knows that secret is current CIA director Janet Harward (played by Minnie Driver), who gives this information to certain people.

“The Beekeeper” is the type of movie where Wallace says of the special type of beekeeper that Adam is: “Beekeepers keep working until they die.” Wallace then says that Adam’s goal is to “keep killing until he gets to the top of the hive.” Some of the cast members look like they have a hard time keeping a straight face when saying all of this campy dialogue.

Nothing about “The Beekeeper” is award-worthy, of course, but the movie is very aware of how mindless it is and has fun with it. Unless a viewer is in a very bad mood, that fun is infectious to watch, as long as there are no expectations that “The Beekeeper” will be more than what it is: an uncomplicated, action-packed vigilante rampage.

Amazon MGM Studios released “The Beekeeper” in U.S. cinemas on January 12, 2024.

Review: ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s,’ starring Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Lail, Piper Rubio, Mary Stuart Masterson and Matthew Lillard

October 26, 2023

by Carla Hay

Foxy, Chica, Freddy Fazbear and Bonnie in “Five Nights at Freddy’s” (Photo by Patti Perret/Universal Pictures)

“Five Nights at Freddy’s”

Directed by Emma Tammi

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed U.S. city, the horror film “Five Nights at Freddy’s” (based on the video game series) features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few African Americans) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A down-on-his-luck man, who is in a custody battle with his aunt over his underage sister, takes a job as a security guard at an abandoned pizza place that has some sinister animatronic robots. 

Culture Audience: “Five Nights at Freddy’s” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the video game series, but it’s another movie in a long list of movies based on video games that fail to be inventive or interesting.

Josh Hutcherson and Piper Rubio in “Five Nights at Freddy’s” (Photo by Patti Perret/Universal Pictures)

“Five Nights at Freddy’s” is a horror movie that’s nearly two hours of boredom, odd pacing and weak jokes. The shallow animatronic robots in this dreadful dud have more personality than most of the human characters. “Five Nights at Freddy’s” is based on a popular video game series of the same name, but the video games offer much more entertainment than this terrible and disappointing movie adaptation.

Directed by Emma Tammi, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” (which takes place in an unnamed U.S. city) has some occasionally eerie scenes, but nothing is truly terrifying in this movie, which is really just about a showdown with animatronic robots that look like human-sized stuffed animals. The movie builds up suspense then grinds it to a halt with dull scenes that go nowhere, and then repeats this pattern until there’s no hope that the movie will get any better. All of the characters speak and act unrealistically. Tammi co-wrote the terrible “Five Nights at Freddy’s” screenplay with Scott Cawthon (who created the “Five Nights at Freddy’s” video games) and Seth Cuddeback.

In the movie “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” Mike Schmidt (played by Josh Hutcherson) is a man in his 30s who has custody of his 10-year-old orphaned sister Abby (played by Piper Rubio), who has a tense relationship with him because Abby would rather draw pictures than talk to Mike. In the beginning of “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” Mike is financially broke and has been recently fired from his job, which is something that has happened to him many times in his erratic employment history. Mike is in danger of losing custody of Abby to his mean-spirited aunt Jane (played by Mary Stuart Masterson), who (according to Mike) doesn’t really care about Abby but only wants the government payments that Jane would get for having custody of this orphaned child.

Mike meets with a callous career counselor named Steve Ragland (played by Matthew Lillard) at an employment agency. Steve tells Mike about a less-than-ideal job offer: being a low-paid, night security guard at the abandoned and run-down Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Place, which used to be a popular family-oriented restaurant in the 1980s. Steve explains to Mike that the owner of this dilapidated pizzeria has a hard time letting go of the building and refuses to demolish it or renovate it. Mike is wary of taking this job, but he changes his mind and accepts the offer because he’s desperate for money. When Mike is at work, Abby is looked after by a babysitter named Max (played by Kat Conner Sterling), who hasn’t been paid by Mike in a while.

It should come as no surprise that Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Place mascot robots (which have names like Freddy Fazbear, Foxy, Chica, and Bonnie) come to life and cause terror. That’s in between Mike falling asleep on the job and having guilty nightmares about the time when he was 12 years old and his younger brother Garrett was kidnapped during a family camping trip while Mike was supposed to be looking after Garrett. The kidnapper and Garrett were never found.

Five children who disappeared from Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Place (the reason why the business closed) appear to Mike in these dreams. These kids don’t have names in the movie, and are portrayed by Grant Feely, Asher Colton Spence, David Huston Doty, Liam Hendrix and Jophielle Love. Only one of these children (played by Feely) actually talks to Mike. The scenes with the kids staring at Mike and sometime moving in unison are creepy but not very scary.

Mike’s nightmares look like they could be an intriguing clues to a mystery, but they end up being mostly time-wasting scenes that don’t go anywhere. When Mike gets wounded in these nightmares (such when he falls down or when one of the kids slashes him with a hook), Mike wakes up with the same wounds. In these dream sequences, Wyatt Parker has the role of 12-year-old Mike, Lucas Grant has the role of Garrett, and Jessica Blackmore and Garrett Hines have the roles of Mike’s unnamed parents.

When Mike and Abby find out that these robots have a life of their own, their human reactions are ludicrous. Abby discovers these robots when she accompanies Mike to Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Place, after babysitter Max stops returning Mike’s phone calls, and he can’t find another babysitter in time. Mike befriends a police officer named Vanessa (played by Elizabeth Lail), who apparently has nothing better to do but show up alone and hang out with Mike at this desolate pizzeria. It all goes downhill from there and makes this stinker of a movie a complete waste of time for anyone expecting an entertaining horror flick.

Universal Pictures will release “Five Nights at Freddy’s” in U.S. cinemas on October 27, 2023, the same date that the movie will premiere on Peacock.

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