The Beekeeper

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 4/23/24;
Warner/MGM;
Action;
Box Office $ 66.22 million;
$17.99 DVD, $22.99 Blu-ray, $27.99 UHD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence throughout, pervasive language, some sexual references and drug use.
Stars Jason Statham, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Josh Hutcherson, Bobby Naderi, Jemma Redgrave, Minnie Driver, Phylicia Rashad, Jeremy Irons.

Director David Ayer’s The Beekeeper borrows the “John Wick” formula to provide yet another excuse for a sullen, enigmatic Jason Statham action hero.

In a film driven by an obvious central metaphor, Statham plays Adam Clay, the lonesome beekeeper of the title, who tends to his honeybees in a barn he rents from the kindly Eloise Parker (Phylicia Rashad). In a matter of narrative expedience, within seconds of the film establishing both characters, Eloise is ripped off in a phishing scam that targets the elderly through a fake computer virus warning.

Too embarrassed by her feebleness, and despite having a daughter (Emmy Raver-Lampman) who’s an FBI agent, Eloise promptly shoots herself in the head.

When Agent Parker and Clay briefly connect over the outrage of what happened to her mother, she vows to bring the scammers to justice despite her department’s apparent lack of resources to trace the well-funded ring of thieves responsible. Clay has other ideas.

He turns out to be a retired former operative of yet another one of cinema’s favorite inventions — the super-secret underground agency that operates above the law. In this case, they’re a covert group called the Beekeepers, a branch of the U.S. government tasked with the vague mission of making society work by “protecting the hive.” Clay admired the metaphor so much he took up the actual hobby.

Aside from one pretty effective reveal, without which the plot’s logic might not hold up, the film isn’t very subtle with its storytelling, and to its credit doesn’t try to overcomplicate things. Clay pretty quickly traces the hacker scam to a douchey tech billionaire played by Josh Hutcherson, who has in his employ a former CIA director (Jeremy Irons) as head of security, who serves as both the primary source of exposition about the whole Beekeeper mythos and the top salesman to the audience of the idea that a rogue beekeeper can’t be stopped.

Clay has a brief encounter with an active beekeeper, the result of which suggests the organization is too over the top to remain hidden for long. Sure enough Clay’s personal war of vengeance on behalf of Eloise delivers countless avenues of information to Agent Parker, who is somehow allowed to remain on the case despite her personal connection to it.

The film’s charm lies almost entirely in the goofiness of its premise, which very obviously opens the door for sequel potential. As yet another potential Statham action franchise, The Beekeeper is mostly left to speak for itself, as there are no filmmaker testimonials or bonus materials of any kind included with the film on disc.

The Tax Collector

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

RLJ;
Action;
Box Office $0.94 million;
$29.96 DVD, $29.97 Blu-ray, $19.99 UHD BD Steelbook (Best Buy exclusive until Dec. 15);
Not rated.
Stars Bobby Soto, Shia LaBeouf, Cinthya Carmona, Jose Martin, Chelsea Rendon, Cheyenne Hernandez, Cle Sloan, George Lopez, Lana Parrilla.

Writer-director David Ayer’s The Tax Collector is a bloody sojourn into the power dynamics of the gangs of Los Angeles.

For Ayer, the film represents a return of sorts to the type of gritty street-level crime drama that established his career, following slight detours into the realms of war drama (Fury), comic book action (Suicide Squad) and fantasy (Bright).

Bobby Soto stars as David, who serves as a “Tax Collector” for the city’s top crime lord, Wizard. He and his partner, Creeper (Shia LaBeouf, burying himself in another intense role), collect protection money from local criminal enterprises running drugs and prostitution.

Their operation hits a snag when a new crime boss named Conejo (Jose Martin) comes to town and stakes a claim to Wizard’s territories. Conejo turns out to be an old rival of David’s uncle (George Lopez), but wants David to switch sides to work for him. If David refuses, the lives of his entire family could be in danger.

The story is a straightforward one involving tough-talking street thugs and wannabe kingpins, but may have limited appeal beyond hardcore action fans.

The film arrives in a rather sparse Blu-ray edition, with the only extra consisting of 12 minutes of inconsequential deleted scenes.

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‘Tax Collector’ Slated for Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 6

RLJ Films will release the action-thriller The Tax Collector on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Oct. 6. A 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack Steelbook edition will be released the same day exclusively at Best Buy.

Best Buy’s ‘Tax Collector’ Steelbook

Directed by David Ayer, the film stars Bobby Soto and Shia LaBeouf as David and Creeper, agents for a Los Angeles crime lord named Wizard tasked with collecting a cut of the profits of local gangs’ illicit dealings. But when Wizard’s old rival returns to Los Angeles from Mexico, the business is upended, and David finds himself desperate to protect his family.

The cast also includes Cinthya Carmona and George Lopez.

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The film is available now via VOD and digital download. It made just under $1 million at the domestic box office from a handful of drive-ins and theaters open during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since its digital release, The Tax Collector has consistently ranked high on digital charts from Redbox, FandangoNow and Vudu. The film also has spent three weeks at No. 1 on the weekly “Watched at Home” chart, which tracks transactional video activity compiled from studio and retailer data through DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

Extras on the Tax Collector discs include deleted scenes.