C'MON HOLLYWOOD: Be a little more selective with your roles, Jason Statham!
The other night, I was watching Jason Statham’s latest movie, BLITZ on Blu-ray. Unlike his other recent films, BLITZ went straight to DVD, and watching the film it wasn’t all that hard to see why. While not a bad film, it was totally mediocre and by-the-numbers. Watching it, I kept asking myself, why would Statham, who’s riding a career-high after THE EXPENDABLES and the fairly successful THE MECHANIC, opt to do such a mediocre, run of the mill B-movie?
Statham’s a busy guy. In September, THE KILLER ELITE hits theaters. The cast, featuring Clive Owen, Robert De Niro, and "Chuck" star Yvonne Strahovski, is excellent, and the early trailers promise a fun, wall-to-wall action flick. It will be his third film out this year (fourth if you count his voice work in GNOMEO & JULIET), and a mere three weeks later, he has yet another action flick coming out; SAFE. That one seems like more if a B-movie with Chris Sarandon being the biggest name in the cast other than Statham.
Now, it could be that SAFE is an awesome action flick and considering that we've yet to even see a trailer, I don`t want to come down too hard on it. But why is it coming out so hot on the heels of THE KILLER ELITE?
I really like Statham, although I’d argue that other than THE EXPENDABLES, none of his recent action films have been really good. His best films are still LOCK, STOCK & TWO SMOKING BARRELS, SNATCH, and the phenomenal heist flick, THE BANK JOB. The first two TRANSPORTERS were also pretty tight. Action fans need someone like Statham. He’s a totally legit action hero, and one of the few totally believable badasses that could go toe to toe with the action heroes of yore. But, he seems to be going down a B-movie path, with studios like Millennium and Lionsgate using him to prop up B-action flicks, as his movies guarantee a tidy profit (they typically do way better overseas than they do domestically). I totally understand their rationale, but this is unfair to Statham, who deserves an A-action flick to prove his mettle. Where’s his PREDATOR, or RAMBO?
The way he’s being used now, pumping out b-movie after b-movie (with another three, including PARKER, ECHELON, and THE EXPENDABLES 2, planned for next year), audiences will take him for granted and they’ll start dismissing his films. No one wants to see Statham go the DTV route like Van Damme, or Steven Seagal, as he deserves to go the Schwarzenegger or Stallone route instead. But they only way that will happen is if he pulls an Arnold, or Sly, and waits for the right role. After COMMANDO, Arnie never made another B-flick, and all of Sly’s films, good or bad, were ambitious and not phoned in like BLITZ.
For my money, Statham needs to start doing fewer, better films. Hopefully THE KILLER ELITE will deliver the goods, and the fact that it’s playing TIFF is promising. If that one ends up being really good, hopefully a big studio will come along and offer Statham a chance to go A-list. Imagine what someone like Statham could do if given the budget that a kid like Taylor Lautner is getting for ABDUCTION? It seems like a no-brainer to me, and Statham deserves the chance.