Jason Statham is a throwback, an athlete-turned-action star who delivers winking one-liners and gives up his body for wild stunts in movies that rarely are about saving the world. His characters' motivations for destroying lots of bad guys are more intimate and personal — Liam Neeson's character in the "Taken" films owes a lot to Jason Statham.
Box office numbers admit I'm not alone when it comes to putting Statham movies on my Must-See List. With "Parker" out today, here are the top 10 reasons I will be buying a ticket at my neighborhood movie theater:
10. Jason Statham has a great back story: He was a diver with England’s national team (he finished 12th in the World Championships in 1992), and an illegal street vendor before becoming a model and being discovered by Guy Ritchie, who cast him in 1998’s "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels." And his mother and father are a song-and-dance team in the Canary Islands.
9. He doesn’t try to hide his baldness (think Bruce Willis before he decided to shave his head, and you’ll get what I mean).
8. He speaks with a gravelly British accent, yet I can understand almost every word he says.
7. He performs his own martial arts and stunts, putting himself in harm’s way for whatever insanely dangerous thing a writer and director can cook up. And yet ...
6. ... In a game of "Six Degrees of Jason Statham," there’s no one separating him from co-stars Robert De Niro ("The Killer Elite"), Tom Cruise ("Collateral"), Brad Pitt ("Snatch"), Joan Allen ("Death Race"), Dame Maggie Smith ("Gnomeo and Juliet") and Louis C.K. ("London").
5. Note the mostly minimalist titles, good for headline writers. My copy-editor friend, also a Jason Statham fan, says you know a movie he’s starring in is smart if there are more than two words in the title and one of them isn’t "the," but I’d argue that "The Bank Job" is an exception.
4. He crashes through windows and throws himself from moving cars, and he’s pretty good with a cryptic one-liner. Example of the latter, from "Transporter 2": "Have a good life. What’s left of it."
3 He plays to his strengths (crashing through windows and jumping out of moving cars, for instance). Asked recently if he would enjoy the relative safety of a romantic comedy, he said, "Sure, if they ever come up with one for a guy like me."
2. He has the whole antihero thing down pat. Morally ambiguous characters? For sure, but we wind up rooting for them anyway.
And the No. 1 reason I will go see "Parker"?
1. Jason Statham movies are like concerts by a favorite singer. There’s something warm and cozy about anticipating exactly how you will be entertained and never being disappointed.
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