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 Beekeeper’ Due on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD April 23

Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment will release the Jason Statham action thriller The Beekeeper, from Amazon MGM Studios, for purchase on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on April 23.

The film has earned $151.5 million at the global box office.

In addition to Statham (The Meg, Furious 7, The Fate of the Furious, the “Transporter” films), Emmy Raver-Lampman (TV’s “The Umbrella Academy”), Josh Hutcherson (“The Hunger Games” films), Bobby Naderi, Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting), Phylicia Rashad (Creed) and Jeremy Irons (TV’s “Watchmen”).

In The Beekeeper, one man’s brutal campaign for vengeance takes on national stakes after he is revealed to be a former operative of a powerful and clandestine organization known as “Beekeepers.”

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‘Expendables 4-Film Collection’ Due in Blu-ray Combo Pack March 5

The Expendables 4-Film Collection arrives on Blu-ray (plus DVD plus digital) March 5 from Lionsgate.

The action franchise has earned more than $780 million at the box office.

This bundle, which features four art cards, includes all four films in “The Expendables” franchise. In The Expendables, the elite mercenaries (Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham) are caught in a web of betrayal and deceit when they’re hired by a shady operative (Bruce Willis) to overthrow a South American dictator. In The Expendables 2, a deranged arms dealer (Jean-Claude Van Damme) turns the team’s (Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren) easy paycheck into a tragedy, while The Expendables 3 pits old school vs. new blood when Barney Ross and his team (Wesley Snipes, Harrison Ford) square off against a longtime foe (Mel Gibson). In Expend4bles, a new group of mercenaries (50 Cent, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa) joins the “old guard” to help fight an arms dealer with his own private army.

Each title includes myriad special features.

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The Expendables 4

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 11/21/23;
Lionsgate;
Action;
Box Office $16.71 million;
$29.96 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $42.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong/bloody violence throughout, language and sexual material.
Stars Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Randy Couture, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, Andy Garcia.

The first “Expendables” film in 2010 offered the intriguing premise of assembling a team of action all-stars as a paramilitary mercenary squad tasked with carrying out dangerous international missions. Subsequent installments expanded the roster to an almost absurd level of action talent, even if some of the bigger stars were basically relegated to cameos. The box office underperformance of the third film in 2014, however left some doubt as to the sustainability of the franchise.

Thus, despite receiving a theatrical release and a comprehensive marketing campaign, The Expendables 4 (or Expend4bles in the parlance of Hollywood’s cutesy naming conventions) almost feels like one of those direct-to-video franchise extensions that used to be more prevalent in the heyday of DVD.

At least they dragged out a few of its geriatric regulars to try to justify its existence, though a majority of the cast ends up being sidelined for most of the movie, turning it for the most part into just another Jason Statham action vehicle.

The story involves Statham’s Lee Christmas character seeking revenge when a member of the Expendables is killed during a botched mission to stop terrorists from gaining access to nuclear weapons. When Christmas is benched by the Expendables’ new CIA handler (Andy Garcia) on the subsequent mission to stop the terrorists from using the stolen nukes to ignite World War III, he decides to go anyway, which comes in handy when the rest of the team is captured.

Statham does his best to carry the proceedings across the finish line, but he isn’t given much to work with. The screenplay is saddled with trite dialogue, stilted performances and plot twists that, while predictable, ultimately don’t make a lot of sense.

Though billed at 103 minutes, the story manages to resolve itself in just over an hour and a half, leaving a whopping 11 minutes of credits.

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Expend4bles might offer a few moments of enjoyment for the franchise’s most ardent fans, but this is clearly a franchise that is a shell of its former self.

The bulk of the action takes place in two extended set pieces — first a chemical weapons plant in Libya, then a barge transporting the nukes to be detonated off the coast of Russia. It’s amusing to see the producers in the bonus materials talk about wanting to film “real” action in order to live up to the reputation of the franchise, when the final product looks like it was passed through a CGI filter.

This may be a case where the need for a ultra-high-definition presentation didn’t do the film any favors, as the visual effects look so clean they might as well be from a video game, rather than have the kind of gritty look a film like this needs. Too many close-ups of the actual stars in the middle of stunts look like obvious process shots.

The director for this installment is Scott Waugh, whose previous works include 2012’s Act of Valor, an actioner that employs the gimmick of casting real Navy SEALs, and the recent Hidden Strike, the Jackie Chan-John Cena team-up filmed in 2018 that was shelved for five years before surfacing on Netflix.

The Blu-ray includes a solo commentary track from Waugh, as well as two behind-the-scenes featurettes: the 17-minute “Bigger, Bolder, Badder: The Expendables in Action” about the stunts, and the 19-minute “More Than a Team: New Blood Meets Old Blood” about the cast. Also included is the film’s theatrical trailer. The extras are included on both the 4K disc and the regular Blu-ray of the film.

A Steelbook collection of all four “Expendables” films on both Blu-ray and 4K disc is available at Walmart for $69.99.

Walmart exclusive “Expendables” collection Steelbook

Fast X

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 8/8/23;
Universal;
Action;
Box Office $145.96 million;
$24.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray, $34.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of violence and action, language and some suggestive material.
Stars Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, John Cena, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jordana Brewster, Sung Kang, Scott Eastwood, Daniela Melchior, Alan Ritchson, Helen Mirren, Brie Larson, Rita Moreno, Leo Abelo Perry, Jason Statham, Jason Momoa, Charlize Theron.

As over the top as Fast X may be, at least they don’t go into space this time. New franchise director Louis Leterrier brings the action back down to Earth a bit while finding new ways to push the audiences’ suspension of disbelief to its limits.

As shown in the bonus material, Leterrier seems excited for the chance to put his stamp on a franchise that has had a tenuous relationship with verisimilitude for a number of films, if only for the excuse to bring to life action concepts ruminating in his head since he was a child.

The story stems from the events of Fast 5, which set the stage for the series’ outlandish change of course with its ridiculous heist climax featuring two muscle cars dragging a multi-ton vault through the streets of Rio de Janeiro. The villain of Fast 5 was killed during that final chase, and 10 years later his son, Dante (Jason Momoa), wants revenge.

Setting out with the flamboyancy of a 1960s Batman villain, Dante must first level-up his resources in order to go toe-to-toe with Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family, who since that film have morphed from simple street racing hustlers to global secret agents. To demonstrate how dangerous he is, the film has him take over the high-tech operations of Charlize Theron’s Cipher, the villain of the last couple of “Fast” films, and arranges to split Team Toretto apart on different missions. From there Dom and his family are subjected to an elaborate series of death traps around the world designed to make them suffer until he can maneuver them into one final improbable battle.

Almost lost among the spectacle is that the massive cast has managed to bring together two actors who have played Aquaman — in addition to Momoa, there’s Alan Ritchson, who portrayed the master of the sea on “Smallville,” on hand here as an Agency supercop whose skepticism of Team Toretto’s loyalties provides another wrinkle to the plot.

This film was touted is the beginning of the end for the franchise, as the first part of a grand finale for the characters, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the film ends with a series of cliffhangers and teases for more movies to come.

Still, as exhausting as Fast X can be at times, it can at least be admired for the sheer audacity of the stunts we are expected to believe are happening within the realm of a real physical world. The mayhem looks great in 4K, though the vivid explosions and the exploits of Dom’s seemingly indestructible super-car tend to verge on the cartoonish side.

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In addition to a solo commentary from an enthusiastic Leterrier, the Blu-ray also includes a five-minute gag reel, two forgettable music videos, and nearly 75 minutes of informative (but repetitive) behind-the-scenes featurettes.

The general making of the film is covered in the 35-minute “This Is Family.” Additional featurettes include the 13-minute “Xtreme Rides of Fast X” that profiles the vehicles in the film (which are actually described as the superhero suits to the films’ characters); the seven-minute “Belles of the Brawl” that looks at how the women of the film prepared for their action scenes; the five-minute “Tuned Into Rio” looks at the film’s connections to Fast 5; The two-minute “Jason Momoa: Conquering Rome” focuses on the actor’s role in the franchise, his stunts and a key sequence set in Rome; the three-minute “Little B Takes the Wheel” takes a look at Leo Abelo Perry joining the franchise as Dom’s son; and the minute-and-a-half “A Friend in the End” looks at the film’s post-credits sequence.

Finally, there’s a nearly eight-minute segment of Leterrier breaking down specific action scenes.

Best Buy to Offer ‘Crank’ 4K Ultra HD Steelbook May 23

Lionsgate will release the crime thriller Crank as a Best Buy exclusive 4K Ultra HD (plus Blu-ray and digital) Steelbook on May 23. 
 
In the actioner, hit man Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) needs to raise his adrenaline to stay alive. He has one hour to settle the score and say goodbye to his girl and go out with a little style.

The film also stars Amy Smart (Rat Race, The Butterfly EffectThe Single Moms Club), Jose Pablo Cantillo (Disturbia, ElysiumAmbulance), Efren Ramirez (Mad Families, Casa de mi PadreNapoleon Dynamite) and Dwight Yoakam (Sling Blade, Wedding Crashers, Bandidas). 

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Special features include “Shooting Crank,” “The Stunts of Crank,” “Pushing Crank,” “Crank @ Comic-Con” (4K only) and “More Stories from Crank” (4K only).

Wrath of Man

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 7/13/21;
Warner/MGM;
Action;
Box Office $27.4 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexual references.
Stars Jason Statham, Scott Eastwood, Andy Garcia, Holt McCallany, Jeffrey Donovan, Josh Hartnett, Laz Alonso, Chris Reilly, DeObia Oparei, Rob Delaney, Eddie Marsan.

Jason Statham’s fourth film with director Guy Ritchie is a brutal revenge thriller that uses a time-shifting narrative to maintain the mystery of its characters’ motivations and true identities.

Statham plays the newest employee of an armored truck company that is frequently targeted by a highly armed squad of thieves. His co-workers don’t think much of his icy demeanor until he single-handedly takes out a gang of attackers, which earns him the respect of his colleagues.

Yet it soon becomes clear he has another agenda, which relates to avenging one of the victims of the heist that opens the film — fantastically depicted in a single take from inside the van.

Ritchie, who also co-wrote the screenplay, which is based on the 2004 French film Cash Truck, directs with his usual flair for kinetic and brutal action, resulting in several extended shootouts that will leave the audience wondering who to trust.

The Blu-ray has contains no extras.

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Guy Ritchie’s ‘Wrath of Man’ Due on Digital June 29, Disc July 13

The revenge heist film Wrath of Man is coming to digital June 29 and DVD and Blu-ray July 13 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Director Guy Ritchie (RocknRolla, Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Gentlemen) teams up with Jason Statham (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, the “Fast & Furious” franchise) for a story about a mysterious security guard out to settle a score. The film is Ritchie’s fourth directorial collaboration with Statham.

In the film, mysterious and wild-eyed, a new security guard for a cash truck surprises his co-workers when he unleashes precision skills during a heist. The crew is left wondering who he is and where he came from. Soon, the marksman’s ultimate motive becomes clear as he takes dramatic and irrevocable steps to settle a score.

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The actioner, based on the 2004 French film Cash Truck, also stars Scott Eastwood (The Fate of the Furious, Pacific Rim: Uprising), Andy Garcia (The Mule, Oceans Thirteen), Holt McCallany (Three Kings, Fight Club), Jeffrey Donovan (Hitch, Sicario, TV’s “Burn Notice”), Josh Hartnett (Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down), Laz Alonso (Avatar, “Fast & Furious”), Chris Reilly (TV’s “Game of Thrones”), Raul Castillo (television’s “Looking”), DeObia Oparei (television’s “Game of Thrones,” Moulin Rouge!) and Eddie Marsan (The Gentlemen, Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows).

Jason Statham’s ‘Wrath of Man’ Tops Domestic Weekend Box Office

Following consecutive weekends of fantasy monsters and Japanese anime ruling the domestic box office, down-to-earth shoot-’em-up Wrath of Man reclaimed theatrical supremacy. The MGM/United Artists Releasing title, starring Jason Statham, is reportedly projected to take in $8.1 million in revenue across 2,800 screens through May 9. To date, the title, which is not concurrently available to stream, has taken in $17.6 million internationally.

In doing so, the action thriller would top recent vigilante box office openings for Universal Pictures’ Nobody ($6.8 million) and Open Road Films’ The Marksman with $3.1 million.

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Another box office newcomer, Sony Pictures comedy Here Today, starring Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish, took in $900,000 across 1,200 screens.

Meanwhile, recent box office leaders such as Funimation’s Demon Slayer: Mugen Train ($3 million, $435 million globally), Warner Bros. Pictures’ Godzilla vs. Kong ($1.9 million, $422 million) and Mortal Kombat ($2.3 million, $72 million), and Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon ($1.8 million, $105 million), all remained resilient at movie screens, while also available on streaming and digital platforms.

The total domestic box office, which encompassed most screens operating at 50% capacity due to the pandemic, approached $20 million.

 

Actioner ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ Speeds to Digital Oct. 15, Disc Nov. 5 Including 4K

The actioner Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw will come out on digital Oct. 15 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Nov. 5 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Franchise favorites Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson, Skyscraper, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham, The Meg, Spy) forge an unlikely partnership that provides fresh insight into their backstories with action across the globe, from Los Angeles to London and from the toxic wasteland of Chernobyl to Samoa. For years, hulking lawman Hobbs and lawless outcast Shaw have traded smack talk and body blows. But when cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist Brixton Lorr (Idris Elba, Thor: Ragnarok, The Dark Tower) gains control of an insidious bio-threat that could alter humanity forever, Hobbs and Shaw must partner up to bring him down.

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Joining the cast as Shaw’s sister Hattie is Vanessa Kirby (Mission: Impossible-Fallout, “The Crown”).

Directed by David Leitch from a story by longtime “Fast & Furious” franchise narrative architect Chris Morgan and a screenplay by Morgan and Drew Pearce (Mission: Impossible – Rogue NationIron Man 3), Hobbs & Shaw is produced by Johnson, Statham, Morgan and Hiram Garcia (SkyscraperRampage).

The film has earned more than $680 million at the global box office.

Hobbs & Shaw features more than 80 minutes (on digital, 4K UHD, Blu-ray) of bonus content, including an alternate opening; deleted, extended and alternate scenes; several featurettes with the filmmakers and cast that take fans further into the story; and an audio commentary by Leitch.

The 4K UHD version includes dynamic metadata feature HDR10+. The digital version is available on Movies Anywhere.