Every few months I have to sit through a movie that shows Jason Statham using various limbs to punish bad guys. Also every few months, I roll my eyes, sigh, and then immediately get wrapped up in the British mayhem he causes--and this movie is no exception. Try as I might, I cannot resist his action star wiles, and judging by his repeat performances, nobody else can either. Makes you wonder how many other directors are out there waiting for their chance to align with That Punching Thing He Does. When it happens, it's always satisfying.
You can tell his movies are close to jumping the shark, though, because this time there's a plucky kid in it--and this is where the stereotypes come in. At this point, audiences know that you don't go to a Jason Statham movie to think, so this one relies on lazy characterizations to get you into it. For instance, Mei (Catherine Chan) is a young Asian math superstar. And she is "adopted" by Chinese gangsters (which really translates as "kidnapped"). Using her photographic memory, she memorizes their accounting figures, as well as a long mystery number she doesn't know the meaning of. Unfortunately for Mei, the Russian gangsters are also after whatever has to do with that number, so they steal her from the Chinese gangsters. Jason Statham, always the man with a past this time named Luke, steps in and has to use both his smarts and his pectorals to help her reach safety.
Writer/Director Boaz Yakin, upon first glance, seemed like a weird choice for this one. His filmography includes Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights and Remember the Titans. But then I got the connection: Uptown Girls. Jason Statham dragging Catherine Chan around the city is shockingly similar to Brittany Murphy nannying for Dakota Fanning. Brittany Murphy has a pet pig, and Jason Statham has a dirty skullcap that he won't take off. Fanning jumping around in a ballerina costume is just like Chan using a firearm against leather-faced guys wearing gold rope necklaces. An accountant telling Brittany Murphy she has no money left mirrors crooked cops trying to convince Statham to kill himself because he causes so much trouble. Okay…well, maybe it's not as similar as I thought, but Yakin manages to create a nice little relationship between the two main characters among the crazy, fast-paced camerawork and editing.
The only reason we sit through these pictures is to see what inanimate object Statham is going to use to create a pathway of destruction. This time, it's a dinner plate. And duct tape. And his mind. And it will hold you over for a few months until summer when we see him do it again in Expendables 2.