Tag Archives: Jason Statham

Jason Statham: ‘Do I want to be the next James Bond? Absolutely’

Original article courtesy of theguardian.com

 

Jason Statham Action Star

He’s got the deadliest skills and the maddest stare but has Jason Statham got the chops for comedy? As his new film Spy opens, Britain’s toughest export talks about keeping a straight face, doing his own stunts and having 007 in his sights.

‘You slip on a cape and you put on the tights and you become a superhero? They’re not doing anything!’ … Jason Statham.

“If someone wants me to jump off this balcony,” says Jason Statham, nodding to the window behind him, “and land on a crash pad, that’s a piece of cake for me.” We’re only on the first floor of a Mayfair hotel, but it’s still quite a drop. This isn’t Statham boasting – it’s more a casual aside – but we both know he’s not joking, either. I’m tempted to challenge him to do it without the crash pad, though there’s the possibility he’d win the bet by disabling me with a dinner plate to the throat, hurling me off the balcony with him, and using my body as a human cushion, like he did a few years ago in the movie Safe.

Statham is one of the most distinctive brands in cinema. You know exactly what type of movie you’re getting when you see his name above the credits, and you can be sure that’s really him doing the balcony-jumping, car-chasing and choreographed ass-whupping. He’s the man with the deadliest skills, the maddest stare, the strongest cranium, the graveliest growl. When he punches the air, the air screams in pain.

Except now Statham might have blown his cover. In his new movie, Spy, written and directed by Bridesmaids’ Paul Feig, he’s scene-stealingly hilarious. Melissa McCarthy is the dependably funny and surprisingly physical heroine of this gleeful action comedy, but equally revelatory is Statham, playing a chauvinistic English secret agent. He’s everything James Bond isn’t: sweary, vulgar, not very good at being secret, and by no means the sharpest tool in the agency’s box. He’s confused to learn there’s not actually a “face-off machine” (see clip below) that can change his identity, and he’s given to listing the absurd punishments he’s taken in the line of duty, from ripping off his own arm to impersonating Barack Obama – all delivered with an impeccably straight face. He’s basically a brilliant parody of himself.

“Paul was saying, ‘Look, just don’t try and be funny. That’s not what I want,’” says Statham. “It harks back to Guy Ritchie saying, ‘Don’t try and act. That’s not what I want!’”

There’s no mad staring or growled threats with the real-life Statham. He’s friendly and attentive, even if you get the sense he’d rather jump out of the window than go through another interview. He enjoyed being out of his testosterone comfort zone doing Spy, it seems. If he had any anxieties about playing second fiddle to smart, funny women like McCarthy, Rose Byrne and Miranda Hart, he’s not admitting to them. More challenging was Feig’s way of working. He encourages improvisation, and is in the habit of dreaming up new lines mid-scene and handing them to his actors on Post-it notes.

Statham might have the edge when it comes to leaping from tall buildings, but when it comes to verbal dexterity, he’s happy to bow to McCarthy. “She was just … great,” he says, amused by his own inarticulacy. “For myself, it’s not something I’ve been accustomed to experimenting with.”

Feig wrote the part especially for Statham. He’s a big fan, it turns out. He’d seen all of Statham’s movies – “even the bad ones” – and he clearly recognised something that becomes apparent watching Spy: Statham has been a comedian all along. Many an absurd story would have beenJason-Statham-Crank impossible to buy without Statham’s unwavering deadpan. Like the one where the hero can only survive by committing high-adrenaline acts such as having public sex and driving through shopping malls (Crank). Or keeps his artificial heart charged by attaching jump leads to his tongue and rubbing up against polyester-clad grannies (Crank 2). Or assassinates someone by ambushing them from the bottom of their swimming pool, then moves the corpse’s arms and legs from underneath to make it look like they’re still having a swim (The Mechanic).

Statham has been keeping a straight face for some time, I suggest, half-tensing in case he decides to shove my dictaphone into the side of my neck. He laughs. “I get paid too well not to keep a straight face.”

Jason Statham Transporter

Statham’s school-of-life ascent is almost the stuff of legend now. His acting skills were acquired hawking cheap costume jewellery on London street markets. The athleticism was encouraged by his father, who was a boxer and gymnast. “He taught me to do a handstand practically before I could walk. I could do somersaults and backflips from a very early age.” That led to diving, and a place on the national team, but not the success he craved. “You have to start when you’re five years old; when I started at 12, it’s way late. You need pro coaches; my coach was a chartered accountant.”

Guy Ritchie took a chance on him with Lock, Stock …, Luc Besson took another with The Transporter in 2002, and it’s been a succession of strenuous B-movies and increasingly lucrative franchises ever since. His previous movie, Fast & Furious 7, is now the fourth-highest-grossing of all time, having taken more than $1.5bn worldwide.

Statham’s comfort zone has never looked the slightest bit comfortable, mind you. It’s exhausting just reading about his punishing training regiment: rowing machines, circuit training, weights, sprints, rings, trampolines. Having said that, he recently divulged he also likes to get drunk and float about in his Los Angeles pool with his girlfriend, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. “It’s been feast and famine,” he admits. “I’ve had untold years of burning the candle: going out, overeating, over-drinking. Even when you do it, you understand you can’t live that way. As you get older, you get a bit wiser.” He’ll be 48 next month. Given his new comedy direction, could it be he’s easing out of the action game?

He shakes his head. “I really like doing action movies. It’s opened the door for me and I’ve had a great career out of it. Why not continue doing something I’ve always wanted to do?”

Jason-statham1The problem is, in today’s movie landscape, Statham is facing competition from all directions. On the one hand, there’s a conveyor belt of superhero contenders muscling in on his turf; on the other, you’ve got actors such as Liam Neeson, Denzel Washington, even Colin Firth, taking late-life detours into action movies.

Not to mention the Expendables old guard, including Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who refuse to retire. Statham doesn’t begrudge the latter: “They were my heroes growing up. Sly Stallone is a real athlete; he gets stuck in.” But he’s riled by the number of phoneys he sees around him.

“They are not doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” he says, becoming more animated. “I’m inspired by the people who could do their own work. Bruce Lee never had stunt doubles and fight doubles, or Jackie Chan or Jet Li. I’ve been in action movies where there is a face replacement [that “face-off machine” really does exist] and I’m fighting with a double, and it’s embarrassing. But if you really are an aficionado of action movies, you know who’s doing what and who ain’t. To me it’s a little bit sad.”

He’s clearly not impressed by the superhero upstarts, either: “You slip on a cape and you put on the jason-statham-sylvester-stallone-expendables-2tights and you become a superhero? They’re not doing anything! They’re just sitting in their trailer. It’s absolutely, 100% created by stunt doubles and green screen. How can I get excited about that?”

Statham’s next project is something of a change, though: a thriller entitled Viva La Madness. “It’s a completely different thing to what I’ve been doing,” he says. “This is a real jump back to something very serious. It has its own element of black comedy but very slick, very sophisticated.”

At this point certain dots start to join. Viva La Madness is written by JJ Connolly. It’s a sequel to Connolly’s Layer Cake, in which Statham’s character was played by Daniel Craig. Layer Cake was credited as Craig’s audition for James Bond. Craig has announced this year’s Spectre will be his penultimate Bond movie. Statham would be a wild card choice for the next Bond, but why not?

sylvester-stallone-jason-statham

“Could I do it? Abso-fucking-lutely,” he says. “Would I do it? Abso-fucking-lutely. Is Daniel Craig a great Bond? Abso-fucking-lutely.”

There’s no doubt Statham can walk the Bond walk. And talking his talk can hardly be an issue with a character whose accent has fluctuated between Sean Connery’s Scottish brogue and Timothy Dalton’s Welsh. Added to which, Statham’s self-made, by-the-bootstraps backstory is surely more in tune with modern Britain than the traditional public-school elitist Bond biography. “Yeah, I’d make a decent Bond,” he says. “But it’d be very, very different if I did it.”

What about a Bond villain?

“Er …” he hesitates. “I don’t know if I wanna to do that. That’s not my thing. I’d rather play the other guy.”james-bond-style-jason-statham1

He’s not that bothered, really. He’s doing fine without Bond. After Viva La Madness, work starts on Fast & Furious 8. And Spy will almost certainly be a sequel-spawning success. He’s enjoying himself. “Yeah,” he says. “It’s a good spot. But it’s very unpredictable. It’s inevitable what goes up must come down.” Keeping his feet on the ground might be the wrong expression when it comes to Statham. Let’s just say he’s still landing on the crash pad.

 

Film Review 2: Fast & Furious 7

Written by Michael Dequina
13.04.15
Fast&Furious7 (2)

 

It is incredibly difficult, if not downright impossible, to assess Furious Seven completely on the terms on which it was always meant to be taken: as no more than the latest gleefully overblown instalment of the surprisingly durable, nearly 15-year-old action franchise.  But as anyone is well aware, the harsh tragedy of real life upended and endangered this escapist enterprise’s existence.  As such, the proverbial elephant in the room makes for a certain morbid suspense from minute to minute over how veteran series screenwriter Chris Morgan and rookie series director James Wan not only handle the ultimate fate of the late Paul Walker’s character Brian O’Conner, but perhaps more importantly take care of the intermediary material left unshot at the time of the actor’s passing.  The digital compositing used to attach archival footage and images of Walker’s face and/or head onto various stand-ins’ (among them, his two real life brothers) bodies is certainly smooth and impressive on a technical level; however, less seamless are the scenes themselves, which stand out like a sore thumb by how conspicuously, oddly silent Brian is in them.  After all, when, for instance, has Brian ever passed up an opportunity to join Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) in jokingly taking shots at long-time buddy Roman (Tyrese Gibson)?  Yet that’s what he does in one obvious late-in-production scene, with Tej doing all the ribbing, punctuated by an awkwardly placed shot of a laughing Brian.

And as with most Hollywood action films, whatever passes for story comes secondary at best to those big set pieces.  The (now-) well intentioned outlaw gang of Brian, his BFF Dominic (Vin Diesel), love of Dom’s life Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman, and Tej (Brian’s wife/Dom’s sister Mia, again played by Jordana Brewster, literally stays home with the kids) is recruited by their FBI chum Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to rescue a computer genius (Nathalie Emmanuel) from a big bad (Djimon Hounsou), who has dastardly designs on her straight-out-of-Eagle Eye super-surveillance technology.

Meanwhile, the deadly older brother (Jason Statham) of the *previous* film’s big bad (a briefly returning Luke Evans) is on their tail, thirsty for revenge.  The connection of the Statham character is reflective of the sincere and rather admirable effort at a semi-coherent series continuity.  The film also finds Letty still struggling with the amnesia caused by her near-death experience in 2009’s Fast & Furious and temporary brainwashing to the dark side in Furious 6, not to mention this is the first film in the series to finally take place *after* the events of 2005’s tangentially related third instalment, Tokyo Drift, with that film’s lead, Luke Black, finally, officially (if only briefly–for now, at least) joiningFurious_Stratham-Johnson-fi the main line mythology (though Black rather unavoidably looks very much the decade older than he was in that film’s closing scene, which directly dovetails into this story about 20 minutes in).  And so goes another area where Wan picks up right where Lin left off: the ongoing growth of the already large canvas of characters.  In addition to Statham, Emmanuel, Hounsou, and Black, Ronda Rousey turns up as (what else?) a woman warrior; the great Thai martial arts movie megastar Tony Jaa makes his Hollywood debut in a mostly non-verbal evil henchman role; and even Kurt Russell comes aboard as a shady government agent type.  But just as much of a Lin hallmark was the underrated ease with which he and Morgan juggled their widening array of players.  Furious Seven was originally set to be released only a  little over a year after Furious 6, and the hastened pre-production schedule shows in how Morgan clunkily writes out characters for stretches at a time instead of keeping them plot-active while off camera.

Such a shortcoming is fairly moot, though, for when it comes down to what it initially sets out to do, Furious Seven gets the job done.  I speak not just, of course, about being one big, breezy, no-brainer popcorn spectacle, but also serving as a formal send-off to the character of Brian O’Conner and one final tribute to his portrayer, Paul Walker.  And for a series that is by its nature crass and in-your-face, and some of whose earlier instalments were marred by delusional  pretensions of pseudo-existentialist would-be profundity, the surprisingly understated, rather graceful, and altogether classy coda is probably the most outrageous–and satisfying–stunt ever pulled off in its seven-film (and certain to yet still grow) run.

Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson,
Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson,
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Elsa Pataky, Lucas Black,
Jason Statham, Djimon Hounsou, Tony Jaa,
Ronda Rousey and Kurt Russell

Directed by: James Wan
Writer: Chris Morgan
Based on the Characters created by: Gary Scott Thompson

Produced by: Neal Moritz, Vin Diesel, Michael Fottrell
Executive Producers: Samantha Vincent, Amanda Lewis, Chris Morgan


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Film Review: Fast & Furious 7

Written by Christine Eccelston-Craig
02.04.14

 

 

Fast&Furious7 (2)
“I don’t have friends. I got family.”

These words sum up the heart and soul of the Fast & Furious franchise. Not just for the faithful team of characters on screen, but also for the band of actors, filmmakers and crew who have grown extremely close over the course of seven movies. I don’t think anyone would’ve guessed 15 years ago that the story of street racers in East L.A would’ve transformed into one of the most popular and enduring motion picture serials of all time. The tragic and unexpected death of Paul Walker in an off-set car crash during the time of filming broke many hearts. However the cast still wanted to celebrate his life in the best way; so with the help of Caleb and Cody Walker (Paul Walkers brothers), as stand-ins the movie really did come to life.

“You don’t know me. But you’re about to.”

FAST AND FURIOUS 7 One SheetFast & Furious 7 arrives as the biggest, most fulfilling Fast & Furious movie yet. It’s packed with action from start to finish! British actor Jason Statham opens as salty killer Deckard Shaw, who doesn’t seem to fear anything or anyone. As he stands by his dead brother’s bedside in what appears to be a regular hospital, the camera pans outwards only to reveal he’s slaughtered over a dozen SWAT members and shot up half of the hospitals staff, not to mention around 95% of the building is crumbling around him. His cool and composed attitude is quite sinister, as he walks away from what’s left of the collapsing building his arrogant posture really sets the tone for this character. Who better to adopt that role other than Jason Statham? He’s known for his brutality on screen in films such as The Expendables and I must say he’s done very well playing the tough guy.

With a movie full of nothing but testosterone, it’s easy to say that at first glance it’s a real “guys’ movie.” Filled with hot girls and even hotter cars the camera never fails to pan (in slow motion) over both of these key features. In addition, some of the most crucial nail biting fighting scenes I’ve ever seen takes up about ¾ of the movie but is a real pleasure to watch. Even if you are covering your eyes through most of it! That raw authenticity of the lashes and punches is something I think the audience is missing in modern day action films like these. Characters Shaw (Jason Statham) andDwayneJohnson_Furious7 Torretto (Vin Diesel) perform the best street fighting sequence in the entire franchise of the Fast movies. It’s that rugged reality of it that makes it more fascinating to watch. The ability to see them get down and dirty with bare knuckles is truly special, it’s about time more fighting scenes had this sort of realness in them. We’re missing the fear factor people!


“Double Alpha, man candy you know what I’m sayin?”
Tyrese Gibson is back as Roman Pearce, who bucks authority and again provides more of the films comedic elements. A player when it comes to the ladies, but always loyal when it comes to his team. In Fast & Furious 7 Roman pushes for more of a leadership role, however he soon realises he’s bitten off more than he can chew when his plan to rescue an elite hacker named Ramsey is actually put into action. Despite a few minor setbacks, Roman of course pulls through accompanying his team on some of the craziest car chases known to man. Launching themselves (and their cars) out of cargo planes, free-falling and then parachuting to a treacherous mountain road below only to drive across jagged, rocky surfaces and off extremely high cliffs plummeting down the steep land. Now that’s what I call living life on the edge, literally. Chris “Ludacris” Bridges reprises his role as the automotive and tech tactician who first appeared in 2 Fast 2 Furious. The humorous rivalry between Tej and Roman remains intact and now extends to a beautiful girl caught in the middle of their bickering. It’s definitely like they’re back in high school, they never stop keeping it fun and entertaining for the audience. Now you get to see them act completely crazy, childish and get competitive with one another. You’ll never get tired of watching those two. I know I won’t.

“Wait! Cars don’t fly!”

Director James Wan did a fantastic job with this film having directed films such as Insidious and Annabelle, Wan took a step out of his comfort zone in order to create this movie sensation better known as Fast & Furious 7. Using his techniques of directing horror movies along with Brian Tyler’s music composition, the two manage to fuse terrifying scenes that will have you jumping out of your own skin with hard hitting violence to make you flinch and tremble. His efforts to combine horror with action did not go unnoticed as Fast & Furious 7 epitomizes all of that and then some. With this film, the whole world gets to feel a part of the family. Questions are answered and new thoughts are proposed. If it lives in the saga it’s a seed for something new and will be revisited.

Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Elsa Pataky, Lucas Black, Jason Statham, Djimon Hounsou, Tony Jaa, Ronda Rousey and Kurt Russell

Directed by: James Wan