Friday, February 1, 2013

Movie stars who are invisible to me

I try to see a little bit of just about everything, but there's one glaring exception, and it involves a guy who makes enough movies that I'd trip over him if I didn't look where I was going.

His name is Jason Statham.

Simply put, I look right through movies starring Jason Statham.

I don't mean I see right through them, like they are trying to be one thing but I can tell they're really something else. Like you see right through a person's friendly facade into their wicked intentions.

No, Jason Statham movies are exactly what they are. They have no facade. If they had a facade, that would at least be something. Since they don't, I barely notice them.

Statham's movies are gruff and clipped action movies in which the actor displays a bruising physical prowess and not many emotions. They meet a certain minimum threshold of hipness, but they are forgotten almost as soon as you leave the theater.

Or so I believe, anyway. It's been awhile since I've seen an actual Jason Statham movie. In fact, the most recent of his movies I've seen is The Expendables, the original one, in which he plays only a supporting role. Since then I've let The Mechanic, Blitz, Killer Elite, Safe, The Expendables 2 and now, this week, Parker slip past me. (Gnomeo & Juliet was wedged in there somewhere, but I hardly count it because he appears only as a voice.) The last movie I saw where he starred was back in 2009, with Crank: High Voltage. (If they made a Crank 3, though, I'd probably need to see that.)

The funny thing is, I'm not essentially opposed to Jason Statham, The Genre. I like movies with criminals and fighting and guys with badass Cockney accents. I find Statham to be a compelling presence who is about the closest thing we have these days to a respectable action hero. And by "respectable" I don't mean "can be defined exclusively or intrinsically as an action hero" -- I mean someone you can actually respect. Someone you don't hate yourself for liking. A guy who's tough and has balls, but isn't on some level a fraud or a sellout. I'd sure as hell like to have a beer with him, that's for certain.

Yet I don't really want to watch the movies he's in.

I think this is because Statham is one of the few actors out there who has no capacity to surprise me. There are plenty of other actors who do the same thing all the time, but Statham shows even less variation in his choices than most of them do. It's a good thing his essential persona is pretty entertaining, because when you watch a Jason Statham movie, that's exactly what you're going to get. 

Is this a fair stance to take toward Statham, a guy I've admitted to liking in a general sense, a guy who has made a couple movies I like a whole lot (his collaborations with Guy Ritchie and with Neveldine and Taylor come to mind)?

Probably not. But it's no less true. When I see that a new Jason Statham movie is coming out, I automatically think "Pass."

In fact, I don't even do that. Because to pass on something, you have to notice it's there in the first place.


Nick Prigge said...

Wait, who's this 'Jason Statham'?

Vancetastic said...

I didn't notice until afterward that the poster for Parker is literally a see-through Jason Statham with a woman's face visible on the other side. How appropriate.

Thaddeus said...

If you don't mind my saying (I haven't had time to comment on your site lately, and I've added several just now): the weird thing about Jason Statham is that he has everything it takes to be the next (and the English) Bruce Willis. I'm serious here.

Like Willis, the dude has genuine acting chops. However, unlike Bruce, he keeps choosing the same kinds of movies and he doesn't take much time out to appear in indie dramas or comedies or anything. He's been catapulted to the same level as Stallone or Arnie, but he has the ability to do what Willis did and to add fine performances, like Bruce did to 12 Monkeys, The Story Of Us, The Player...

I totally understand how he can fall below your radar, but I promise you that Statham could genuinely make a name for himself as an actor, like Willis did (with Arnie as the clear person who's not an actor, but a Star). I simply don't think that we'll ever get to see it, at this point in his career.

Travis McClain said...

I share your perspective on Jason Statham's filmography, except that to my knowledge, I have yet to see a single film with him in it. He exists for me in the same peripheral room as Charles Bronson, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal. I know plenty of people dig their work and I'm not knocking it but I have absolutely no interest in them whatsoever.