It’s a day that ends in “y,” so there’s a good chance a Jason Statham action movie is playing in theaters. The current one is called Homefront, and it stars Statham as a former DEA agent laying low in Louisiana after a job gone bad. James Franco plays Gator, a meth-dealing punk who causes Statham all kinds of trouble, so ass-kicking ensues. You can read our full review here.
Anyway, since it’s the day before Thanksgiving and there isn’t a lot of noteworthy news out there, I figured it’d be a good time to run through Statham’s filmography and write up some good old fashioned internet lists ranking a few of his best and worst movies. I’m a big fan of the guy and think he’s one of the more charismatic action stars working today, but he doesn’t always choose the best projects to get involved with. Here’s a list of what I consider to be his five best and worst films so far.
Note: I didn’t include movies like The Italian Job or Snatch because those are more ensemble films than traditional “Jason Statham movies.” (An easy way I delineated between ensemble films and my definition of a “Jason Statham movie” was checking to see whether or not Statham is front and center on the film’s poster.) Read on, and don’t forget to sound off in the comments below with your own thoughts.
5. The Bank Job
Since this is based on a true story, director Roger Donaldson kept the action mostly plausible here, and as the title indicates, it’s more of a heist film than the straight up actioners Statham often finds himself starring in. When it came out in theaters I remember thinking it was just OK, so the fact that it made the number 5 spot on this list goes to show that there aren’t that many truly solid Statham movies that don’t feature him in a big ensembles. (I do have high hopes for Fast and Furious 7, though – he’ll play the bad guy among an incredible ensemble of badass actors.)
I’d wager that most people skipped this one when it hit theaters last year, but if you’re a Statham fan, it’s a must-see. It’s a legitimately good throwback to 1970s-style action, featuring corrupt cops, a little girl in trouble, and Statham beating his way through bars and back alleys to make things right. He’s a morally complex character who isn’t afraid to resort to excessive violence to get things done.
3. The Transporter
Guy Ritchie may have given him his start in the world of film, but this is the movie that really put Statham on the map. Action fans everywhere went nuts for his martial arts skills and this movie’s excellent action sequences still easily hold up today. On a personal note, though, I’m still pissed that the scene in the trailer in which Statham’s Frank Martin deflects a missile with a silver platter didn’t make it into the final cut of the film.
2. Transporter 2
This sequel ups the ante considerably from the first movie, and though the action gets a bit more outlandish here, it’s the kind of outlandish that makes you laugh and shake your head at how audacious it is instead of the kind that makes you roll your eyes. He beats the crap out of a bunch of guys with a fire hose, and at one point he does a barrel roll in his car and scrapes off a bomb on the bottom of the vehicle just as it detonates. Yeah, it’s pretty damn awesome.
The first Crank is Neveldine and Taylor’s masterpiece, and I consider it Statham’s best movie to date. That outlandish action I mentioned from Transporter 2? This movie takes that and jolts it up a notch. With insane cinematography (the directors filmed some of the action using consumer cameras on rollerblades), a wild plot (Statham is injected with poison and must stay active to stay alive until he can get his revenge), and some of the most inventive and memorable action sequences in the actor’s career, it doesn’t get much better than this for fans of balls-out craziness and fun action movies.
5. The Mechanic
A tepid remake of the Charles Bronson film of the same name, Statham actually signed on under the assumption that the filmmakers would use the exact same script from the Bronson version. But the studio screwed with it so much that any semblance of intelligence was removed from the story, and worst of all, it ended up being a boring action movie. Inexcusable.
4. Killer Elite
Throw Statham in an action flick opposite Robert De Niro and Clive Owen and you might expect sparks to fly, but sadly that’s not the case here. Like The Bank Job, this one is also based on a true story, but there’s a lifelessness in this movie that deflates the entire picture. (The only redeemable thing in it? The scene in with Statham fights a guy while strapped to a chair.)
Another team-up that you’d expect to be great – Jason Statham and Jet Li – results in a plodding, rote snoozefest that features a story we’ve seen a thousand times before told in the most tedious way possible. When a Statham film can’t rely on good action scenes to get you through some storytelling bumps, you know you’re in trouble.
I saw this film at the Playboy Mansion, and even that insane location couldn’t convince me that it was anything other than a trashy, worthless waste of time. Statham looks like he doesn’t give a crap about anything that happens, and even great character actors like Michael Chiklis, Clifton Collins Jr., and Wendell Pierce can’t save it. The script is terrible, but I’m also placing a lot of blame on whoever thought it’d be a good idea to cast Jennifer Lopez as the female lead. Yikes.
1. Transporter 3
Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a film franchise that took such a massive nose dive from its second to third installment. Transporter 3 removes everything interesting about the character of Frank Martin, drops in a high concept (he must stay within 75 feet of the car or else his wristband explodes), and teams him with one of the most annoying film characters I’ve ever seen (Natalya Rudakova, who barely speaks English). Plus, this was one of the first high-profile gigs for director Olivier Megaton, who has gone on to direct such putrid garbage as From Paris with Love and Taken 2. The world would be a much better place if Transporter 3 was never made.
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