Rogue 10: A Jason Statham Retrospective

Tuesday, 11 March 2014 11:02 Written by  iamrogue
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Rogue 10: A Jason Statham Retrospective

Homefront, hitting Blu-ray today, is like a muscle car: a product of another age that is nonetheless even more effective now.

Jason Statham, the action-thriller's star, is similar: in an age of CGI superheroics and leading men with sculpted eyebrows, the British actor is a lantern-jawed bruiser, a throwback from an age when monosyllabic gunslingers were king and stunts commanded more attention than digital effects.  He's a man's man, a former professional athlete who specializes in gruff anti-heroes who may or may not have hearts of gold.

He's Jason freakin' Statham.  If you're a henchman, then Jason Statham is going to drop you with a single roundhouse kick to your glass-jawed ass and he's going to look like a million bucks while he does.

In Homefront, Statham plays Phil Broker, the former DEA agent from many a novel by Chuck Logan.  Looking for a quiet town in which he can safely raise his nine-year-old daughter, the recently widowed Broker is settling down.  Until, that is, he's slowly drawn into a feud with a local meth kingpin played by James Franco.

For more than sixteen years, Statham has been delivering his Stathamian brand of justice on screen.  With Homefront marking his latest contribution to the ass-whupping endeavors, we've decided to dedicate our latest Rogue 10 to a rundown of ten movies in which Jason Statham has especially excelled.

So here, without any further ado, is a little retrospective on the man, the myth, the Statham:

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Statham couldn't have hoped for a better introduction than Guy Ritchie's first movie, which set the stage for so much of what followed for both helmer and star.  The role of streetwise con man Bacon perfectly suits Statham, taking advantage of the actor's own past as a street-peddler of fake perfume and the like.  If Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels had only featured Statham pummeling a bunch of nameless henchmen, it would've taken advantage of his full repertoire.

The Italian Job


Statham actually got kind of hosed on this one.  His Handsome Rob is a world class getaway driver, so a massive heist built around expert Mini-Cooper driving would seem to provide him with a real showcase.  Instead, both Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron get in on the climactic action, with Wahlberg's Charlie Croker in particular outshining Rob as a wheelman.  Still, The Italian Job illustrates that our man Jason doesn't need to be the star attraction.

The Transporter


The locus classicus of Statham performances, Frank Martin represents so much of what we associate with Statham.  He's laconic, well-dressed, an exceptionally good driver, and a strict professional.  But he's also loyal and can be relied upon to do the right thing, even when it costs him greatly.  Also, he can beat the living hell out of virtually anyone.  So potent is Frank Martin that Statham also starred in two sequels.  The property is now a television series on which Chris Vance must live in Statham's beefcake of a shadow.

Furious 6


It's tough for any franchise to keep up the momentum after six entries.  With the post-credits sting on last year's Furious 6 introducing Statham as a new villain bent on vehicular vengeance, the Fast & Furious franchise didn't just put the pedal to the metal.  Thanks to Statham, the franchise effectively took its shirt off, looked the audience straight in the eye, and screamed, "Come at me, bro!"

Cellular

A rare villainous turn finds Statham imprisoning Kim Basinger and racing against a surfer-turned-action-hero played by Chris Evans in this cheesy, no frills, real-time thriller.  That's right, Statham spends much of the movie pursuing Captain America around.  Get cracking on that Marvel fan-fiction.

Death Race


Who else could play Jenson Ames?  He's got so many qualities that Statham looks for in a character: a wrongfully-imprisoned ex-race car driver with the salt to survive an automotive gladiator competition that this 2008 actioner predicted would be all the rage in the futuristic America of, um, 2012.

The Expendables


It was sort of inevitable that Statham would kick ass alongside his burly action hero antecedents Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  What's surprising is just how central Lee Christmas is to the Expendables movies.  Yeah, he is Stallone's sidekick, but he's also the more expressive and accessible of the two, largely carrying The Expendables, its sequel, and presumably this summer's The Expendables 3 as well.  In a franchise full of alpha dogs, Christmas speaks softly and carries a throwing knife.

The Bank Job


Terry Leather isn't just the Staham character with the best name (tough competition, truly).  He's also the one that best demonstrates that Statham can actually operate outside of the burly bruiser mode with which he's most associated.  This lean thriller based on a true story finds the ass-kicker kicking nary an ass.  Instead, Leather's a down-on-his-luck car dealer with a wife and kids.  When he signs up for a robbery in 1971, this average-ish joe ends up in way, way over his head.

Snatch


His second collaboration with Ritchie doesn't give him any action hero moments, but instead positions his Turkish as the calm and smartassed but otherwise ordinary center around which a whole lot of colorful criminals orbit.  Without a charismatic actor to hold the whole stylish extravaganza together, Snatch would devolve into a music video, but luckily for us, Statham's there to keep us involved in the outcome of madcap jewel-snatching and violence.

Crank

Plenty of physically formidable actors have specialized in action-ready tough guys over the decades, but only one such actor had the balls-to-the-wall audacity to play Chev Chelios, an assassin forced to keep adrenaline coursing through him in order to keep the poison in his veins from stopping his heart.  Crank and its sequel are truly mad, and any actor willing to step up to their aggro-level are rare indeed.

Homefront is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, digital download, and via Video On Demand.

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