And now for something completely different... Statham, Statham, bobatham, banana-fana fo-fatham, fee-fi-mo-matham, Statham! For reasons even less clear than running through all of Arnold's movies, I think it'd be fun to run through all of Jason Statham's movies in chronological order as well. I've really liked him in everything I've seen him in, but it turns out I've only seen him in 6 of his 28 films. Also had no idea that his first movie was as recent as 1998, nor that he didn't start out as an action star Jackie Chan-style from the beginning. Would appear I have plenty to learn about him and I'm quite interested to see if he's always had that amazing charisma and general badassery that I so enjoyed in The Transporter. He seems like he's a capable enough actor, but is the reason he's never broken out of his mold choice or is he a pretty limited actor. I'm certainly rooting for the former, but the later is a definite possibility.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
I somehow missed seeing this and Snatch in the theater and have managed to avoid them ever since. I've been aware of Guy Ritchie, but to date have only seen his two Sherlock movies, so I'm quite interested to go back to the beginning and see both he and Statham get their starts. I've heard it mentioned that Statham didn't do much action at all in his first couple of movies, so it'll be fun to see why he was cast if not for the kicking of the faces and the shooting of the guns...
Lo and behold, another instant favorite of mine! Almost going overboard on the quirkiness angle, but excellent fast-paced dialogue and a fun example of weaving all the threads into one big tangled mess at the end. This struck me as almost a gangster-populated version of The Full Monty and it's in the non-violent parts that this movie finds its heart. I was instantly rooting for the main four even before the poker game and loved the cinematic punch of showing Eddy staggering and dazed after busting out of the game. From that point, I'm hooked and enjoying the ride. A good thing too, since otherwise the jumping from thread to thread could have been an annoyance, but here it's handled with a great sense of humor and sense that it'll all tie together if I'll be patient.
Not at all the sort of performance I was expecting for Statham, but he's great all the same. No action at all from him, but from the opening rapid-fire hustle dialogue, he's already oozing charisma. His deadpan delivery is put to excellent use here as one of the more sane ones in the gang and his expressions are wonderful. I love his ability to look annoyed, incredulous, intimidating, and dismissive all at once. He must be an interesting guy to hang with, particularly knowing where his career is headed. All in all quite the performance for a debut and a real breath of fresh air. This movie has me pumped to hopefully discover some more gems. Hopefully pumped enough to get me past Ghosts of Mars, which appears to be the Red Sonja of Statham's early career.
I'm quite amazed at the quality of performances here, particularly given this is Ritchie's first go as director and Statham and Vinnie's first movies as well. Vinnie in particular is completely awesome and I love the honorable person and doting father angle on a heavy. Made for some great moments and Vinnie practically steals the last half of the movie. I see he's made several other movies with Statham, so it'll be fun to see him again and find out if this was one-time magic or if he really is that fun all the time.
Badassery Quotient - 5
I'm defining BQ as Statham's commanding presence, charisma, fight sequences, and use of guns and vehicles. Compared to Arnold's AQ, this is less about Statham being Statham than Statham doing what Statham does best. Statham. So since we have none of the action bits that he's directly involved in, it mostly falls down to charisma and presence which he has an astounding amount of for a debut performance. We'll have to keep an eye on this Statham, he may have a promising career in B movies ahead of him!
Rewatchability - Yes please
It's such a rare treat to know you've just watched a new favorite movie. Yet another to add to the list and one I'd definitely try to force on other people. I can see the tone and style being offputting to some people, but it really worked for me and was a hell of a lot of fun. It's difficult to resist wanting to go right back and watch this again, but the quest awaits! Every onward!
Next up - Snatch. Another Guy Ritchie movie and I was very much aware of this one when it came out, but also gave it a miss. Hard to tell how this is different than Lock, Stock but I'm now very excited to give it a try and find out!