Both my girlfriend and my co-editor, Amy, have been a bit surprised by the number of clicks I have gotten on the Jason Statham articles I have written. Neither were aware that he was so popular. I took my girlfriend to see Homefront in the theaters. It was the first Statham film she had seen, but even then, I don’t think she yet grasped his appeal.
I suppose we have Guy Ritchie to thank, although, I would still like him to explain Revolver to me. Ritchie gave Statham his big break when he cast him in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Statham quickly gained his footing and became a worldwide star. He had seen something in Statham that no one else did, and how right he was. First and foremost, guys like simple action films, not overly complicated ones, where Tom Cruise runs out of large skyscrapers or Shia LaBeouf fights evil robots. Give me a bad-ass who kicks butts and takes names.
Attitude is very important for an action star. Statham comes off as surly, a loner, but he also is not without his charm. He has the right mixture of both. Guys no longer accept a suave charmer. I love both James Mason and Cary Grant, but a little bit of an anti-social quality is necessary. My girlfriend floated the idea that maybe Jason Statham could play Bond. At first, I didn’t foresee an eventuality where that could happen. Then, it began to make sense. Another Bond had the same mixture of surliness and charm as Statham and he, Sean Connery, in my opinion, was the best James Bond. So, as you can see, it is not all that far-fetched.
A survey of the action star field reveals that most cannot spell “thespian” much less be one. With actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jackie Chan, Dolph Lundgren and Jet Li, English is not their first language. Sometimes, that barrier affects some of their performances. With Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, and Jean-Claude, they are just bad actors. Steven Seagal and Bruce Willis have been put out to pasture, thank God, and you’re just going to have to accept the fact that Sylvester Stallone is immortal, but not in a good way. For the most part, acting is not a prequisite to survive in this genre. But Statham breaks this trend and it is something that filmmakers need to capitalize on. He will never brings tears to your eyes, unless he kicks you in the crotch, but Statham will always give you a strong performance. I realize that, in my last piece, I complained about him sleepwalking through The Expendable films but, even in those, he is not boring. As well, for the most part, you will rarely find an experienced actress in these types of films. The girls are to look pretty and sometimes act. Their ability to emote is not always that important. Rarely do actors like Van Damme or Lundgren develop chemistry with their female co-stars. While you will never see Statham in a sex scene (I know both Crank films had them, but you have to take those in context), he still does an excellent job connecting with his co-stars and doesn’t give them the cold shoulder like most of the other guys do. Look, for example, how he plays off of Amy Smart in the Crank films or even the young actress who played his daughter in Homefront.
I feel like Jean-Luc Godard & Francois Truffaut writing about Hitchcock. Someone will read these words and wonder, “What is he on?” Well, the answer is nothing. Statham has versatility and range that is unparalleled in the action genre. Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee are greats, but they had their weaknesses. Lee never played off women, in fact they were a hindrance to him. Jackie Chan brought comedy to action and showed everyone the beauty of choreography in the genre.
Statham’s movies are stamped with his signature. He has a personality that controls the screen and demands attention, even when the scripts are less than stellar.
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