Jason Statham is the star of many action movies, some of which are okay, others of which are good, and three of which are exceptional (Transporter 2, Crank: High Voltage, Safe).
Mechanic: Resurrection, a sequel to the 2011 hit, opens wide this week. Jason Statham is going to kill a number of people in charismatic and intimidating ways. Maybe you spend some time thinking about them. But before you do, there are some things you need to understand about Statham.
Jason Statham’s biography reads like the beginning of an action movie starring Jason Statham. These are the first two lines of the “Early Life” section on his Wikipedia page:
“Statham was born in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, the son of Eileen (née Yates), a dancer, and Barry Statham, a street seller and lounge singer. He moved to Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, where he initially chose not to follow his father’s career working the local market stalls, instead practicing martial arts.”
I don’t believe in destiny, but I believe in Jason Statham.
Killing a person in an action movie in an especially charismatic or intimidating way, which is a thing that Jason Statham excels at, is an easy way for a character to establish himself or herself as cool or credible. But it’s a logic that only moves in one direction. Because if you’re the other person in that equation — if you’re the one who is getting killed in the especially charismatic or intimidating way — then it’s a tragedy. But it’s actually worse than just a normal tragedy: It’s embarrassing forever.
Think on it like this: At the end of Crank: High Voltage, a movie where Jason Statham wears a track jacket, Statham is introduced to the disembodied head of a person he thought he killed in the first Crank. The head is connected through the neck to some tubes and is floating in watery goop in a largeish aquarium on a table tended to by scientists. Turns out, the head’s brother, the main villain of Crank: High Voltage, has been keeping the head alive just so it can watch Jason Statham die.
Shortly after the introduction, a shoot-out happens. One of the bullets hits the aquarium, which shatters, so the head just sort of dangles off the table by its cords. Statham picks it up and starts talking to it, and I’ll remind you here that Crank: High Voltage is one of the three Jason Staham movies I consider “exceptional.” Here’s a picture of him talking to the head:
Since the head isn’t floating in the watery goop anymore, it mumbles out that it needs water. Statham asks, “Water? Did you say water?” Then he spits in the head’s face, as if that’s the kind of water the head wanted, or needed. The head mumbles some curse words, then Statham says, “H2O coming right up,” then he yanks the cords out of the head’s neck and super-punts the head into a nearby pool. The head dies.
This is all obviously ridiculous, but ridiculous in the coolest and dumbest way possible. It’s like, “Oh my god. Did Jason Statham for real just spit in a dangling head’s face and then kick the head 40 yards?” That’s what you say, because that’s what you see. And from that point on in the Crank movie universe, him spitting on and then kicking a head is an action that has to be reckoned with. For the rest of Statham’s life in that world, he is the guy who did that very gnarly thing.
But think of it from the head’s point of view, and then from the head’s family’s point of view. When the head was attached to a body, it had a name (Ricky Verona), and that name represented a person who existed. Ricky Verona had a life, responsibilities, family members, friends. And now whenever anybody talks about him or asks about him, not only do those family members and friends have to say that Ricky is dead, they also have to explain how he died, too, which is very humiliating.
PERSON: Hey. What’s up, man? How are you? How’s your family?
RICKY VERONA’S FAMILY MEMBER: I’m fine. My family’s not that great, though.
RVFM: Ricky died.
P: Dang, for real? I’m sorry to hear that. My condolences.
RVFM: Thank you.
P: How did he pass?
RVFM: Oh, umm. Well, he was a dangling head in an aquarium. And the aquarium broke. And a guy picked up the head and spit on it and then kicked it into a pool.
P: What the fuck?
RVFM: I know.
Do you know what’s worse? Jason Statham killed Ricky Verona’s brother in the original Crank. The brother, Alex Verona, was chasing Statham out the back of a restaurant. Statham hid around the corner, and as Alex walked through it, he had his gun out, waiting to shoot. But Statham was ready. He had picked up a butcher knife while on the move, and he used it to cut off Alex’s hand (the one that was holding the gun). As Alex kneeled in pain, both literal pain (because he’d just had his hand cut off) and existential pain (because he was suddenly realizing he was going to have to live the rest of his life that way), Statham shouted, “How freakin’ awesome was that, huh?” Then a few seconds later, he picked up the gun with the hand still holding it and shot Alex in the head with it.
Even worse: Crank: High Voltage ends with Statham killing the last Verona brother by beating him to death while he is on fire. Let me make sure that I am clear here and say explicitly: Verona wasn’t the one on fire, Statham was the one on fire. His body was literally cooking while he punched the guy to death. Again: That’s a wonderfully cool and powerful story for Statham to tell, but also a heartbreaking and embarrassing one for the Verona family to live with. Three brothers, all killed in a dispiriting, disgraceful fashion.
I am so sad for the Veronas. The Verona legacy is tarnished forever.
Jason Statham has destroyed so many families. These are their stories.
“Do you know how my husband died? I’ll tell you. Jason Statham jumped out of a building window several stories up while holding onto him. He used him to cushion his fall when he hit the concrete. Can you believe that? That was the last thing my husband ever was — a fucking human air bag for Jason Statham. The doctors said all of the bones in his spine were broken, and that his insides exploded. I remember I asked them if I could see him. I wanted to see him one last time. I wanted to say goodbye. I needed to see him. I needed to see my Larry. I used to call him Lare Bear. He hated it, but in that way you hate-love something. He always laughed at it private. He had the best laugh. I miss that laugh maybe more than anything.
“They said it wasn’t a good idea, me going to see him. They said his eyes burst in his skull from the impact. I don’t know. I should have listened to them. But I didn’t. I looked. I can’t believe I looked.” — The wife of a man Jason Statham killed in Safe, 2012
“Jason Statham killed my father. He drowned him while he was swimming in our pool. My dad had swum down to the bottom in the deep end because he saw his watch down there. It was a trap, though. Statham had placed it there as bait. He was hiding in a scuba suit that matched the color of the pool’s floor so you couldn’t see him, the police said. When my dad got close enough, Statham sprung out, grabbed him, then held him still underwater until he died. In science class last year we were talking about predation and the teacher, Mrs. Mariotti, showed us a video on YouTube of an octopus doing basically the same thing to a shark. It was horrible. It felt like everybody was looking at me. I don’t know if they actually were, but that’s what it felt like.
“When I think about it, when I think about what Statham did to my dad — that’s the closest anyone has ever gotten to going fishing for humans. I have this dream every couple of weeks. I’m out fishing with my dad. We’re sitting on the dock overlooking the ocean. It’s sunset; we’re talking, bonding, just being together. It’s great. I hook a big fish on my line. And I fight and I fight and I fight to reel him in. And when I finally get him in, I look down and see that it’s my dad that I’ve hooked. And then when I look over to my right where my dad was sitting there’s a giant fish there in his chair. I’ll never go fishing again. Maybe when I have a son of my own I will, but probably not. Jason Statham has ruined so many things for me.” — The 17-year-old son of a man Jason Statham killed in The Mechanic, 2011
“My mama said that my daddy went for a ride on a boat.” — The 5-year-old daughter of a man Jason Statham squashed with a boat in Transporter 2, 2005
“My dad used to do this thing where he would pick up my baby brother and say, ‘Here comes the helicopter,’ and he put then his mouth on his belly and blow, like, this fart noise thing. I always thought it was dumb. I mean, the baby always laughed, but to me it was just whatever. It was a baby thing, you know? But I would give anything to hear it just one time, to see him do it just one more time. But I can’t, because Jason Statham punched my dad’s head through the rear rotor on a helicopter while it was spinning. I’ll never look at my baby brother the way I used to.” — The daughter of a man Jason Statham killed in The Expendables 2, 2012
“I hate talking about this. Jason Statham poured oil all over a garage floor and then attached bike pedals to his feet for grip and then karate kicked several guys with them. One of those guys was my dad. It’s just, like, what the fuck, man? Who does shit like that?
“My dad’s friends showed up to try to help. They started shooting at Statham. But Statham just slid across the floor and used my dad as a shield. The man who raised me. The man who coached my T-ball teams. The guy who would pick me up from school — all Statham saw when he looked at him was was a slab of meat to stop bullets. One of my dad’s best friends, this guy named John — they grew up together. He accidentally shot my dad during the ruckus. He tried to talk to me at the funeral. I couldn’t handle it.
“They said that Statham jumped out of a window into a harbor or something. He dragged my dad with him for the jump, too. His friends were so mad that they threw a gas barrel down into the water at Statham and shot at it. It exploded. There was fire everywhere. They were waiting for Statham to come up for air, but he never did. What he did was literally suck the last breaths out of my dad’s body to stay alive underwater. You know what the hardest part is for me? My dad wasn’t even a full-time henchman. It was a part-time thing for him. His full-time job was laying tile. Man, everything in our house was tiled after he got that job. The fucking walls were tiled. He was so proud.
“He took the henchman job for extra money. Sometimes, I think about the times I asked him for new shoes or clothes or to go to a concert or whatever. And it’s like, ‘Is that why he was working extra?’ Is this my fault? Is my dad dead because of me? I hear my mom crying in her room at night and I think, ‘Is this my fault?’ I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do.” — The son of a man Jason Statham killed in The Transporter, 2002