Culture: Film

Jason Statham’s latest film – Hummingbird

Jason Statham in Hummingbird

Stuart Wren reviews Hummingbird, the latest film starring hunk Jason Statham, and comes to the conclusion that it’s sometimes best to stick at what you know you’re good at…

Everyone loves The Stath. Okay, that maybe a generalisation. Most people love The Stath. More than any movie star of recent years he has become the King of the guilty pleasure. His mix of adrenaline-fuelled action and implausible story lines has made him an enormous star, not only over here, but in the States. With The Stath, you know what you are getting, violence with a hint of charm and ridiculous situations. Seriously, who isn’t excited about a possible Crank 3? So when news came out that Jason Statham was to star in a more dramatic role, it made quite a few people, including myself, curious. Could he pull off a part where he has to actually act? The result is Hummingbird, the first film directed by Steven Knight, the writer of Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises. Sadly, the result falls flat on its face. It’s not The Stath’s fault at all but a very muddled mix of melodrama, social-realism and action film – none of which gel at all.

Joey Smith (Statham) is a vagrant living rough on the streets of London with a past fighting in Afghanistan . He is protector of a young girl called Isabel, the pair are attacked and Joey escapes, falling into an apartment of a man who is in New York for six months. Joey decides to use his new-found home and belongings to help rebuild his life, in the vain hope that he can find the now missing Isabel. Smartening himself up, he gets himself a job as a bodyguard for a top Chinese gangster who runs the streets of Soho, and turns to missionary nun Sister Cristina for help in finding his young companion. In doing so, he finds himself falling in love with her.

Knight’s script is quite frankly, a mess. It’s like watching three very different movies all rolled into one. One moment we see Statham breaking arms and cracking skulls, the next we have to believe he’s a sensitive soul who is only trying to do what is best for the missing girl, as well as the estranged mother of his daughter, before falling in love with the most radical nun in the world. In trying to mix all these concoctions together, the tone jumps one way, then another, making none of it plausible. The only part you really believe is when Statham is in action mode, because that’s what he’s known for.

There are some great ideas in this film that just aren’t developed. The darker side of London’s underbelly is always fascinating subject matter and Knight is clearly interested in it, as proven with the aforementioned film scripts he has written. There’s also the story of a man haunted by his past, trying to make amends. That would have made for a solid two hour drama. The romance between a violent man and a nun? Maybe not.

On the plus side, Chris Menges’ superb cinematography really captures London well. The recognisable streets are given an almost magical feel about them, with their bright colours and use of neon. Then again, what else would you expect from such a top-class lenser like Menges? Although what did bother me was how empty the streets were. Had London become part of an epidemic, like in 28 Weeks Later? I have never seen Covent Garden so quiet. Even at 4am there are people still around yet here, nothing.

Statham gives it a good go in the acting stakes and I’m sure that underneath that tough, rough exterior is a pretty decent actor. It’s just a shame that he has such a laden script to deal with. The love story element, where he has to be all caring and tender, just feels awkward, especially when Agata Buzek’s Cristina is such an unusual nun, who swears, drinks and, well…you know the rest. It just doesn’t ring true at all. I was also more than a little concerned about Ms Buzek’s eating habits – giving out food for the homeless, maybe she had forgotten about herself. She looked so thin.

Fans of Jason Statham will go and see this film, but they’ll probably come out disappointed. It’s not your usual Stath film by a long shot and if he wants to do more serious roles, then maybe he shouldn’t go for a film that includes his trademark action persona. Personally, the words of a Billy Joel song spring to mind: ‘I like you just the way you are’ Don’t we all?

Words: Stuart Wren


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