We don’t know exactly how Eloise came to take care of Adam, much less precisely what he means when he describes her that way. It’s to the film’s credit that it never elaborates, just as it never elaborates on who Adam was before he became a super-duper extra-secret commando who has never been fingerprinted and exists outside of every known governmental structure and seems (from other characters’ descriptions) to be sort an agent of self-regulation for society.
The film is the brainchild of director David Ayer (“Suicide Squad,” “Fury“) and veteran action film and thriller screenwriter Kurt Wimmer (who wrote or co-wrote remakes of “The Thomas Crown Affair,” “Point Break” and “Total Recall”). It appreciates the virtues of its leading man, who appears to have come by his muscles honestly, and does everything from dialogue to martial arts to gunplay as simply as possible.
Statham is the kind of leading man who makes you lean forward in your seat, and he’s gotten better with age. This performance builds on his superb work in Guy Ritchie’s “Wrath of Man,” which also presented him with the challenge of riveting an audience’s attention while playing a character who was more of an idea than a person. Statham’s matter-of-fact minimalism in “The Beekeeper” makes it all the more moving when Adam tersely speaks of how much Eloise meant to him, or waxes philosophical on the organization of the beehive and the necessity of ensuring a functioning society. There aren’t too many action heroes who could deliver a line like “I believe there’s good in the universe” and not only make you believe that the character believes it but that the film believes it.
A word about the bad guys: It’s genuinely impressive how well-cast they are, especially considering their number. Standouts include David Witts as Garnett, the boiler room leader who personally bilks Eloise, narrating his conquest to a room full of junior vultures with the brio of a Tom Cruise-style ’80s go-getter; Josh Hutcherson as the data mining company’s vice president Derek Danforth, the spoiled, sleazy, coked-out son of the president of the United States (Jemma Redgrave); Jeremy Irons as Derek’s boss, former CIA director Wallace Westwyld, an exasperated cynic who seems as if he wandered in from “Veep”; and Taylor James as a braying wanker of a mercenary who brags that he once killed a guy like Adam and can’t wait to do it again. They’re all morally and/or physically revolting. Derek looks like he’s been marinating in oat milk, and Hutcherson reads his lines in that preppie teenage snot voice that a lot of trust fund boys never lose even when they enter their fifties. When James’ character gets worked up while denigrating Adam, he spits misty plumes of saliva. Irons is dressed and lit to exaggerate the royal rotter look that made him so perfect in 1990s black comedies, psychosexual thrillers and horror flicks.