This morning a friend asked for an observation about Safe‘s Jason Statham, and here’s what I sent back: “At his best, Staham has that studly, minimalist Steve McQeen vibe going on — the steely hard guy with the code of honor who doesn’t say much and blah blah. Every generation has two or three tough hombres of this sort, and right now he’s filling that requirement.
“McQueen made shit from to time, but he also worked with A-level directors on A-level films — The Great Escape‘s John Sturges, Bullitt‘s Peter Yates, Papillon‘s Franklin Schaffner, The Sand Pebbles‘ Robert Wise, The Getaway and Junior Bonner‘s Sam Peckinpah.
“Statham, on the other hand, has almost exclusively made B-level programmers.
“Since breaking out 14 years ago in Guy Ritchie‘s Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch (’00), Statham has starred in exactly one classy, high-pedigree film — Roger Donaldson‘s The Bank Job. He also did a 45-second walk-on in Michael Mann‘s Collateral, but you can hardly count that.
“Statham is a working-class Brit with a sports background (diving) and not much education, and one result is that he seems to lack not only good taste but any kind of longing to acquire it, and therefore a semblance of class. He seems to regard action-movie acting as a ticket to wealth and power, but he doesn’t seem to understand what true aesthetic coolness is.
“If Statham makes too many crap movies, he’ll eventually lose his lustre and magnestism. He’ll be bruised fruit.”