Review: ‘The Beekeeper’ is a throwback to 90s action movie fun

The ’90s were the heyday of the action movie. Movies like Simon West’s Con Air, John Woo’s Face/Off, and James Cameron’s True Lies had wholly ridiculous plots that were somehow both fully aware of their absurdity while also being completely serious. It was an art form that felt like it was invented in the ’80s, perfected in the ’90s, and then lost. I won’t say that there have been no fun action movies in the past two decades, but I have a hard time naming any that quite fit the bill. So imagine my delight when I sat down to watch David Ayer’s The Beekeeper and discovered a wormhole to the ’90s.

Adam Clay (Jason StathamThe MegThe Expendables) is a quiet man, living a quiet life keeping bees. When his neighbor Eloise Parker (Phylicia RashadCreed) has all of her money stolen by a scam operation, and she ends her life as a result, we discover that Clay is not as quiet a man as we thought. Instead, he is a former member of a super secret government agency known as the Beekeepers. And a beekeeper’s job, as he says repeatedly in the movie, is to protect the hive. Do we know what a beekeeper is? Not really. Do we know what the hive is? Also no. But he’s going to protect it by any means necessary. He can’t even be bribed by NFTs.

Jason Statham in The Beekeeper. Image courtesy of MGM.
Jason Statham in The Beekeeper. Image courtesy of MGM.

This movie is terrible, and I loved every second of it. In one scene, Veronica Parker (Emmy Raver-Lampman), an FBI agent and daughter of the woman Clay is avenging, says to him, “I detect some British Isles hiding in your accent.” She says this to Jason Statham. Y’all. I don’t know if any line has ever made me laugh so hard. The script is littered with so many absurd statements like this. And the bee puns? Not since Jerry Seinfeld’s Bee Movie have I encountered such a glut of bee-related jokes. 

Josh Hutcherson had a massively convincing and energetic turn as tech bro Derek Danforth

The performances are all an absolute delight. Everyone in this movie knew exactly what they were doing, and they committed so hard to it. Statham was his perfect deadpan self, delivering some incredible vigilante justice. Jeremy Irons played the level-headed former government agent turned body man. And I haven’t even talked about Josh Hutcherson as Derek Danforth. Hutcherson played a coked-up tech bro with so much conviction and energy that I wanted to go block him on Twitter. There is no small part in this movie; everyone in it gives it their all, and that enthusiasm comes through on screen. 

Josh Hutcherson as Derek Danforth in The Beekeeper. Image courtesy of MGM.
Josh Hutcherson as Derek Danforth in The Beekeeper. Image courtesy of MGM.

Literally, my only complaint about this movie is that there is a super fun character who only gets about five minutes of screen time, and I would have loved more time with her. But there is a wide cast of villains for Statham to dispatch in this movie, and he does so in some inventive and brutal ways. 

The fight choreography in this movie is not at any John Wick level. It’s not so messy that one can’t follow it, but it doesn’t have much finesse. That said, the creativity of the fights is varied enough that I didn’t feel fatigued just watching one fight scene after another. What I’m trying to say is that I will be wary of office staplers going forward.

The third act twist in The Beekeeper is grand, absurd, and masterful

One of the other things that made this feel like a classic ’90s action film was the twist in the third act. It is grand and absurd, and it adds so much to the story. The Beekeeper isn’t any kind of high-brow script, but the pacing is impeccable, and the way scribe Kurt Wimmer introduces the various characters, particularly the third-act surprise, is quite masterful. I genuinely don’t know if the movie is intentionally funny or not, but I laughed regularly through the screening. As I was leaving, I heard other movie-goers talking about how they were already planning to come back with friends.

Jason Statham and Jeremy Irons in The Beekeeper. Image courtesy of MGM.
Jason Statham and Jeremy Irons in The Beekeeper. Image courtesy of MGM.

Anyone who reads my reviews knows that I like thoughtful, well-conceived, story-driven films. I want to go to a movie and leave with something to think about and discuss with people. I believe in the power of the art form to help people expand their worldview and become more empathetic, thoughtful people. But I also like to be entertained. 

This is not a good movie, but it is an awesome movie. If the ultimate goal of a film is to entertain, then The Beekeeper succeeds in this spectacularly. And if you love 90’s action movies, you are going to be drawn to this, like a fly to honey. Because bees make honey, you get it.

The Beekeeper is now in theaters.

Learn more about The Beekeeper, including how to buy tickets, at the movie’s website.

Have you watched it yet? Are you suddenly nostalgic for the 90s? Share your thoughts with us on X @MoviesWeTexted.

For more action movie and television reviews, check out all of our coverage.

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