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Davis Journal

The Movie Guru: ‘The Beekeeper’ and ‘Lift’ offer cheesy action fun

Jan 18, 2024 09:31AM ● By Jenniffer Wardell
Credit for photo ©Amazon MGM Studios

Credit for photo ©Amazon MGM Studios

The Beekeeper (in theaters)

An ideal Jason Statham movie follows a very specific formula – he gets mad at some very bad people, then spends the rest of the movie beating them up.

Luckily for Statham fans, “The Beekeeper” follows that exact formula. Even better, the bad guys are wildly unethical scammers who steal money from vulnerable people. It’s a villainy that hits a lot closer to home for most people than mobsters or gun runners, and as a result it’s extra satisfying to watch Statham kick them in the head. And kick them he does, delivering massive, complicated fight scenes with the kind of brutal beauty Statham is known for.

Are some of the plot twists ridiculous? Of course they are. The bees, for example, have almost nothing to do with anything. Neither does the secret organization Statham’s character used to belong to. But if you’re not prepared for at least one absurd plot twist and/or hostage during the course of a movie, then the action genre is probably not for you.

Action movies are not about nuance or subtlety. They’re about watching the hero beat up people who inarguably deserve to be beat up, and giving the audience the visceral satisfaction of punching evil in the face. We might not be able to beat up our own evil bosses, but Statham is happy to do it to Josh Hutcherson’s deeply smug stand-in.

Sometimes, that’s the most satisfying cinematic experience you can have.

Grade: Three stars

Lift (Netflix)

Don’t listen to the critics on this one.

Yes, I know I’m a critic. But I’m also a big fan of cheesy heist movies, and “Lift” is actually a pretty good example of the genre. Yes, it’s clearly a Kevin Hart vanity project, but not more so than the last three “Mission Impossible” movies were Tom Cruise vanity projects. More importantly, I had a lot more fun watching “Lift” than I did any of those movies. With a few surprise plot twists and characters who actually seem to like each other, it’s a perfectly pleasant excuse to curl up at home in front of your laptop.

The plot involves a somewhat-ethical heist crew getting blackmailed by Interpol into completing a job. Conveniently, retrieving the gold will stop the original owner from funding terrorism. Even more conveniently, the Interpol agent who is running point has a romantic history with the head of the heist crew. Despite all this, at least a few of the plot twists come as a surprise and the rest are all deeply satisfying. You may know what’s coming, but you’re still glad when it happens.

Hart is decent as the crew’s leader, though anyone expecting him to crack jokes will be sorely disappointed. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is great as the Interpol agent, and needs to be given more chances to flex her action muscles. It’s also fun to see Vincent D’Onofrio get the chance to be something other than a villain. The man has a wonderful goofy side, and it’s been far too long since he’s had the chance to show it off.

Grade: Two and a half stars

Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Utah Film Critics Association. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at [email protected]