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What to stream: Be transported from January doldrums with Statham binge

Katie Walsh
Tribune News Service
(TNS)

With Jason Statham’s latest actioner “The Beekeeper” hitting theaters this week, it’s an apt time to look back at the bald British bruiser’s extensive career — the highs, the lows and everything in between. It’s January, the perfect time for an action movie binge, and there’s no better star than Statham to begin with.

Statham got his start as an athlete and model, competing for England’s national diving team, and modeling for Tommy Hilfiger and French Connection. But it was his background as a street salesman that got him his first role in Guy Ritchie’s 1998 black comedy crime indie “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” playing a character named Bacon, alongside his childhood friend Vinnie Jones (stream it on Starz or rent it elsewhere). He later played Turkish in Ritchie’s breakout hit “Snatch” (2000), an ensemble crime comedy starring Brad Pitt, Dennis Farina and Stephen Graham (rent it on all digital platforms).

Statham has since gone on to a long collaboration with Ritchie, including appearing in the recent “Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre,” but that silly trifle is not worth the time. Instead, focus your efforts on Guy Ritchie’s take on “Heat,” the big, bruising drama “Wrath of Man,” which is one of Statham’s best performances, as a grieving father planning a heist in order to avenge his son’s death. Rent it on all digital platforms.

“Snatch” led to Statham’s casting in Luc Besson’s “The Transporter” (2002) as driver Frank Martin, which also led to two sequels in 2005 and 2008. A fun bit is to imagine that it’s Frank Martin dropping off a briefcase to Tom Cruise’s assassin in Michael Mann’s 2004 thriller “Collateral,” thanks to Statham’s brief appearance. Stream “The Transporter” on Starz or rent it elsewhere, and stream “Collateral” on Paramount+ or rent it elsewhere.

Statham also played backup to Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron in the 2003 F. Gary Gray heist movie remake “The Italian Job” (stream it on Paramount+ or rent it), and in 2006, starred in the gonzo Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor action movie “Crank,” about a hit man who has to keep his adrenaline flowing constantly in order to stay alive (stream it on Peacock or rent it). The 2009 sequel “Crank: High Voltage” is also available to rent on all platforms.

Of his notable appearances in big franchises, Statham has dutifully appeared in all four of “The Expendables” installments opposite Sylvester Stallone and the rest of the aging action heroes (rent them on all digital platforms), and in the “Fast & Furious” franchise as Deckard Shaw. He and Dwayne Johnson got their own 2019 spinoff “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” (streaming on Prime Video), but you’re better off just watching the main franchise for Statham’s appearances, starting with the sixth installment.

Statham demonstrated his comedy chops opposite Melissa McCarthy in Paul Feig’s 2015 action spoof “Spy,” one of the most underrated and delightful action comedies in years. Let Jason Statham do more comedy! Stream it on Max and find out. Unfortunately, he’s stuck to his action roots, jump-starting another action franchise with the mega-shark movies “The Meg” (on Netflix) and “The Meg 2: The Trench” (on Max). While we wait for Statham to get back to his comedic roots, we’ll just have to enjoy the best of his action offerings, including “The Beekeeper,” in theaters Friday, Jan. 12.

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(Katie Walsh is the Tribune News Service film critic and co-host of the “Miami Nice” podcast.)

©2024 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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