We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
Love or hate his work, Jason Statham is officially a certified movie badass. Having worked his way from an upstart thanks to Guy Ritchie all the way through two Crank films and way beyond, Statham has left his imprint on the action movie genre which only indicates what his casting in The Expendables means: he’s among the greats. His box office numbers certainly indicate it.
In honor of his latest movie, The Mechanic, TSR has taken on the challenge of picking Statham’s finest roles so far from his filmography. While it may have both severe ups and downs, it is always grounded in making Statham out to be a bad-ass.
7. Lee Christmas in The Expendables (2010)
Recap: In an all-star cast united by action movie deity Sylvester Stallone, Statham was secondary only to Rambo himself. The two join a group of movie macho men that include Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Bruce Willis, Terry Crews, and Mickey Rourke.
Reason: Christmas is a character that mixes Statham’s natural brawny Bank Job-like prowess with the same wirings that make him an automatic, martial arts ass-kicker in The Transporter movies. When he finds out that his ex-lover is being abused by her new boyfriend, Christmas rides over on his motorcycle to the guy’s pick-up game of basketball, breaks a bunch of his buddies’ bones, and then tells the knocked about d-bag that next time, he’ll “deflate all your balls.” (And even though he answers abuse with more violence, he kind of re-gets the girl after.) Also aligned to Statham-expectations, earlier in the movie he blows up a long boat dock using only a flare gun and some extra plane fuel. Working with Stallone’s Barney Ross as his right hand man, Christmas is meant to look like the next in line to the “Expendables” throne, something that could be true about Statham inheriting Stallone’s box office power.
6. Bacon in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Recap: Writer/director Guy Ritchie stomped into the feature film scene with this incredibly kinetic tale of connected mishaps in London’s underground. This critical success introduced Statham and Vinny Jones to the world.
Reason: The beginning of Statham’s domination of an action movie audience’s attention, this role honors the actor’s true black market roots (apparently that part of his life helped Guy Ritchie cast him). A member of a clumsy young quartet of ruffians caught in the middle of Lock, Stock’s shenanigans, this Statham character is a team player, but he does stand out at times with his defining moments of being a tough smart-ass. Also, for an acting debut, Statham does a knock up job.
5. Terry Leather in The Bank Job (2008)
Recap: Reportedly telling a true story about the 1971 Baker Street Robbery that was hidden by a gagging order for many years, the film co-stars Saffron Burrows.
Reason: It’s not until towards the end that Statham hurls a brick at someone’s face (after kicking it out of a wall, nonetheless) but this role is probably the actor’s most chic performance – which makes the last name “Leather” all the bit more perfect for this character. Statham’s work as car salesman turned robber Terry Leather continues Ritchie’s handling of the actor, which gave him a much more raw, almost entirely non-choreographed existence. The robbery itself within the film is rife with its problems, but Statham maintains his cool throughout The Bank Job, not needing to pull off any elaborate stunts to keep us on board.
4. Turkish in Snatch (2000)
Recap: Guy Ritchie returned from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels with this more intricate tale, this time with Statham playing a boxing promoter at the center of the grimy madness.
Reason: As Turkish himself says, “Not many people are named after a plane crash.” In a whole cast of colorful characters, Statham stands out with Turkish, maintaining the kind of characteristics that made him a hit in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. In this round, he’s even funnier, and also more aggressive. When he takes a bat to a couple of guys messing with his slot machines, it s a bit of Statham fresh air.
3. Jake Green in Revolver (2007)
Recap: Guy Ritchie fused his ideas from Kabbalah with a trippy script about gambling, and achieved polarizing results. Seen as confusing or even “pretentious” by a lot of its viewers, Revolver has been mentally pushed out of the way in favor of other more easy accessible Guy Ritchie movies.
Reason: In regards to commanding a scene with acting, Revolver might contain Statham’s best performance. It doesn’t have to do with his appearance, which does have the usually buzzed head actor sporting long hair along with a goatee. It does have to do with Statham channeling his action movie intensity surprisingly into drama, especially in one of the film’s pivotal scenes where he acts the crap out of a scene in an elevator – against himself. Regardless of however high or low Revolver sits in Guy Ritchie’s filmography, it does contain a performance from Statham that goes beyond what an action movie audience’s ego may expect.
2. Frank Martin in The Transporter series (2002, 2005, 2008)
Recap: Luc Besson co-wrote and produced all three films in this series that features a man who is hired to transport items (usually people) without asking. Problems arise (and the fun begins) when he starts asking.
Reason: Like the greats before him, Statham upholds the cinematic coolness of putting the pedal to the metal. Unlike many before, Statham has added martial arts to the mix, with a taste for heightening a stunt’s ridiculousness (while keeping most of them in their range of awesome). In Transporter 2, Frank knocks a bomb out from under his car by using a crane as he flies in the air. In Transporter 3, he drove his car through the train. All in a day’s work.
1. Chev Chelios in Crank & Crank: High Voltage (2006, 2009)
Recap: Rogue filmmakers Neveldine/Taylor contributed these high-speed punk rock movies to the action movie genre and Jason Statham’s reputation was never the same.
Reason: A great part of Statham’s badassness (yes, it’s now a word) comes from his recklessness, both in choosing redundant roles that will undoubtedly give him flack (the new Mechanic) and in performing them however he f**king feels like (Transporter 3). Thus, Statham is a 110% perfect choice for the Crank films, a series that eventually added onto its goal of providing insane action thrills with essentially telling critics and general naysayers “F**k You” when they don’t “appreciate” their action movie irregularities. (The last shot of Crank: High Voltage is a close-up of a grinning Jason Statham flipping off the camera, whilst burning to the bone.) As Guy Ritchie enhanced Statham’s brawny appeal with Lock, Stock and Snatch., filmmakers Neveldine/Taylor gave a massive power-up to Statham’s overall cinematic potential of embodying a video game character, with invincibility and balls-to the-wall shoot ‘em up chaos to boot.