The Beekeeper

Aretired agent of a clandestine agency whom everyone fears turns into a killing machine for the good when a cyber fraud company swindles a kind old woman out of the two million dollars she was safekeeping for her community.

This is basically the gist — and the entire story — of The Beekeeper, the film directed by David Ayer and written by Kurt Wimmer, which one wishes led cinemas to include a feature that every film-viewing device or software has: the fast-forward button.

Lacking depth, intelligence, and good technical and creative decisions, this is a standard story done substandardly. Jason Statham mumbles and looks miffed, destroying buildings and killing bad people and their guards with lightning-fast action moves.

That, and the little backstory and dialogues he has, makes him a cardboard cut-out of a man-on-vengeance archetype, though without the subtlety or likeability.

The Beekeeper is probably a great big splotch on Ayer’s and Wimmer’s already splotched film career. Ayer has recently directed The Tax Collector, Bright, the first Suicide Squad film and Sabotage. Wimmer’s screenwriting credits include Expendables 4, the recent remake of The Children of the Corn, the Angelina Jolie-starrer Salt and Total Recall.

Wimmer also directed the Milla Jovovich-starrer Ultraviolet and the Christian Bale-led Equilibrium — one really bad film, the other quite enjoyable when it came out but which, nonetheless, pilfered ideas and styles from THX 1138, The Matrix and Fahrenheit 451.

Jason Statham fumbles and mumbles his way through the mediocre The Beekeeper while Sijjin is closer to home and thus relatable

One wishes The Beekeeper would have stolen something … at least then it would have been a mediocre watch.

The Beekeeper is rated PG and is suitable for teenagers, though one cannot fathom why anyone would expose their young ones to a film where there is nothing but violence and no plot or story SijJin

Adapted from the Turkish movie of the same name (though that was spelled Siccin), the Indonesian horror film Sijjin, playing in cinemas across Pakistan for a few weeks now to adequate turnouts, is a film this writer didn’t think he’d enjoy — at least for the first quarter of the film.

The film, about a woman who has an affair and a miscarriage that compels her to go to a shaman to unleash a demon on her lover’s wife, has a refreshingly unique take on the horror genre.

Rather than seeing Catholic priests exorcise malevolent entities out of people in grand visual effects-laden sequences, we instead see an imam’s recitation from the Holy Quran (surahs and ayats that most Muslims know by heart) and very little visual effects.

The draw of the film is its Islamic religion and culture; people praying on praying mats, funeral processions, the belief in Allah and how that — and not a specialised priest with a drinking problem but presumably unshakable faith — is enough to ward off evil.

Director Hadrah Daeng Ratu’s film is simplistic and not very refined when it comes to the screenplay — a rewrite on the second half would have saved the film — but his cast is engaging and the lighting is effective (good lighting makes or breaks a film, especially if it is a horror title).

While far from perfect — or even very good for that matter — Sijjin reminds this writer of the Pakistani horror film Siyaah (there is a lot of overlap here), and leads me to ponder why we aren’t even able to produce such simple, easy-to-make films in Pakistan.

Written by Lele Laila and starring Ibrahim Risyad, Anggika Bolsterli, Niken Anjani, Messi Gusti, Sijjin is rated A for adult audiences. Some sequences are not for the squeamish

Published in Dawn, ICON, February 11th, 2024

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