The Beekeeper: Inside Jason Statham’s Buzzy New Action Thriller
Director David Ayer and antagonist actor Josh Hutcherson unpack their latest movie.
David Ayer is out of his element.
While the director might be best known by some as the director of DC’s infamous supervillain movie The Suicide Squad, Ayer feels more comfortable writing and directing gritty crime thrillers like Training Day. With his latest movie, The Beekeeper, he’s treading new waters again with a gonzo action flick starring tough-guy actor Jason Statham and his legendary Cockney growl.
“Normally, I make more serious dramas,” Ayer says. “This is just a fun, escapist thrill ride.”
While it’s easy to compare The Beekeeper, with its story of a deadly assassin unleashed on unsuspecting criminals, to John Wick, the director says his influences go back even further to genre classics like Lethal Weapon and 48 Hours.
“We used to go to the theaters to feel better, to forget everything going on in the world,” Ayer says. “That’s what I wanted to give audiences: that same experience I had as a kid in the movies.”
Inverse caught up with Ayer and actor Josh Hutcherson, who plays The Beekeeper’s extremely punchable millennial villain, to unpack the meaning behind the movie and what comes next.
The Beekeeper’s Big Message
For what’s supposed to be two hours of mindless, murderous fun, The Beekeeper sneaks in some surprising social commentary. Statham’s assassin (part of a secret society called Beekeepers) is unleashed after an elderly woman he has befriended gets taken advantage of by some particularly ruthless scammers. His quest to protect the hive (and get revenge) takes him through the halls of American power to reveal the sinister mechanisms that power it.
But is The Beekeeper trying to say anything serious? Or is this just a movie about burning people with flammable honey?
“It talks about a failed system where you don’t know who to trust or what’s right and wrong,” Hutcherson tells Inverse. “In this universe, there’s the Beekeeper, who comes out of nowhere and has this sense of justice and creates an absolute hellfire reign of terror as he tries to fight for justice.”
Ultimately, Hutcherson sees The Beekeeper as a cautionary tale about what happens when we can’t trust the systems that are meant to protect us “as well as the clear message of ‘Scamming people is not nice.’”
Josh Hutcherson on Playing a Scumbag
As the mastermind behind a massive Internet scamming organization, Hutcherson’s villain is a perfect synthesis of everything wrong with modern society. He’s a nepo baby who inherited his father’s company and turned it into a predatory system designed to separate elderly people from their retirement funds. Even worse, he runs this evil empire from a lush skyscraper office full of millennial-friendly perks like fancy coffee and free massages.
“I enjoyed the hell out of it,” Hutcherson says. “I haven’t gotten many opportunities to play somebody this unhinged and out there. So that was very fun and energizing.”
Hutcherson adds that director Ayer gave him plenty of room to improvise, while also offering “crazy directions” that pushed the actor to unexpected places.
“The hardest part was not judging myself as I was doing something that was so over the top and out there,” he says.
Will There Be a Beekeeper 2?
Without getting into spoilers, The Beekeeper leaves plenty of room for a sequel that could further explore the hive-obsessed organization. When asked if he’s interested in a sequel, Ayer jumped at the opportunity to go deeper into the world he’s helped establish.
“We cracked the door a little bit into the Beekeeper world, and I would love to learn more about them,” the director says. “I’m extremely curious: Where do they come from? Who are they? How do they operate? What happened in the system? Did it break? Did the Beekeepers break? Do we have to fix the Beekeepers? Who fixes the Beekeepers when the Beekeepers need fixing?”
“I would like to know who founded the Beekeeper system and how many are there,” Hutcherson adds. “That’s kind of what I’m curious about.”
While it’s still too soon to greenlight a sequel (or maybe a prequel) one thing seems clear: There’s plenty more honey to harvest in this buzzy new franchise.
“It’s just an amazing mythology,” Ayer says. “There’s so much room to explore.”