You do not fuck with Jason Statham. It doesn’t matter if he’s a homeless man; he will still head-butt you. It doesn’t matter whether or not this former special-ops soldier on the skids can slip into a rich man’s apartment—though if said owner is gone for the summer, Statham’s sad sack will use the luxury pad to get sober, jump rope, etc. It doesn’t matter if a Chinese gangster hires him as a chauffeur-cum-goon and the transporter uses the cash to help that pretty Polish nun (Agata Buzek) who runs a soup kitchen. It doesn’t even matter if you’re a rich creep (Christian Brassington) who kills hookers—this muscular patron saint will track you down. Trust us. You. Do. Not. Fuck. With. Jason. Statham.
This gold nugget of wisdom apparently applies to Statham’s action-movie persona as well, which is why his venture into more dramatic territory via Steven Knight’s directorial debut keeps him close to his righteous-brute comfort zone. Not even this bullet-headed tough guy, however, could brawl his way past such hoary Christ-figure clichés and horrific lines of dialogue. (“Did you hurt someone?” “Only myself.”) How could the screenwriter of Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises think that a reheated, undercooked casserole of those films’ ingredients would establish the action star as a serious thespian? Or that spicing it with mentions of military PTSD, human trafficking and London’s down-and-out in between beatdowns constituted an exposé of said social issues? There’s a need for redemption here, to be certain, and it has nothing to do with the narrative.
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