Jason Statham Should Have His Own Rom-Com in Hollywood

Although the 1980s saw the emergence of iconic action stars like Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis, no one has dominated action cinema in the 21st century quite like Jason Statham. Although he has appeared in such franchises as The Expendables, The Meg, The Transporter, and Crank, Statham has successfully created his own genre of action movies that emphasize his snarky sense-of-humor and unparalleled hand-to-hand combat skills; the plots may be interchangeable, but Statham’s charisma is retained throughout. Despite carving a unique corner for himself in the cinematic marketplace, the underwhelming response to films like The Expenda4bles and The Meg 2: The Trench suggest that Statham may not have to yield his stardom to a younger generation of action stars. As he reckons with a future outside of the action genre, it’s time for Statham to show a different side of his personality and appear in a romantic comedy.

Jason Statham Is a Character Actor

Despite being earmarked early within his career as an action star, it’s easy to forget that Statham first cut his teeth as a character actor. Statham earned his breakout performance in the Guy Ritchie filmsLock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch; in both films, he plays small-time criminals who live and breathe by their ability to rattle off one-liners. While there is an element of action within both films, they are reliant on Statham’s ability to memorable dialogue with a sharp comedic slant. These performances indicate that it’s Statham’s verbosity, not his physicality, that makes him so charismatic; if he could make magic out of Ritchie’s profanity-laden screenplays, there’s nothing that would indicate he couldn’t do the same with a script by Nancy Meyers.

An important element of any great romantic-comedy is vulnerability, and Statham has routinely shown an ability to make fun of himself. One of his most memorable performances to date was as the CIA field agent Rick Ford in Paul Feig’s 2015 comedy Spy; Ford is a veteran agent who essentially serves as a parody of the type of self-serious characters Statham often plays in his action movies. By lampooning the archetype that he so often embodies, Statham indicated that he is aware of the reputation he has earned, and was enthusiastic about subverting it. While his performance in Spy was in a supporting capacity, it would certainly be interesting to see Statham play a similarly self-referential role in a romantic comedy.

While it’s easy to dismiss many of the films that he’s appeared in as largely similar, Statham is a much more versatile actor than he’s given credit for. There’s a diversity to the characters he plays, even if they generally fall under the banner of “action cinema.” While darker films like Blitz and Redemption have shown his ability to get genuinely vulnerable, Statham is often at its best when he’s able to work with a memorable co-star. He’s a valuable member of the ensemble in films like The Italian Job and The Fast and the Furious franchise, adding both pathos and humor that makes him stand out within the supporting cast. Given the strength of Statham’s interactions with other actors, it would be compelling to see him share the screen with a memorable co-star in a romantic comedy.

Romance Is Important in Jason Statham’s Movies

Although appearing in romantic comedy might feel like a drastic change-of-pace compared to his other work, Statham’s action films often feature strong romantic storylines. While the two installments in the Crank series are associated with their anarchic action sequences, the relationship between Statham’s character Chev Chelios and his girlfriend Eve Lydon (Amy Smart) adds just as much chaos to the story. Chev shares a special connection with Eve that justifies his aptitude for mayhem, and the films create more than a few strange situations in which their relationship is tested. When viewed in isolation, these moments suggest that Statham has the right awkward energy that would make him capable of leading a romantic comedy.

Ironically, the romantic elements of Statham’s films work even when the action doesn’t, suggesting that the genre has begun to constrain his abilities. 2016’s Mechanic: Resurrection is hardly one of the best films that Statham ever starred in, as the convoluted conspiracy story revolving around his character Arthur Bishop’s feud with a group of assassins gives him little to do. However, the romance between Arthur and Gina Thronton (Jessica Alba) adds a sense of energy to the film that makes its opening segments far more entertaining that it would have been with a more straightforward premise. While the action of Mechanic: Resurrection felt like Statham was simply regurgitating tired tropes, his romantic chemistry with Alba gave him the chance to do something different.

Lionsgate’s marketing department may have taken note of Statham’s talents as a romantic hero, as an early teaser trailer for The Expend4bles was edited to initially appear like a romantic comedy featuring Lee Christmas and his girlfriend Gina (Megan Fox). While the trailer ultimately reveals itself to be an action-packed spectacle, the clever marketing gimmick suggested that the notion of Statham taking on a different genre would be an unexpected surprise.

Jason Statham’s Action Films Have Run Their Course

A change in direction would be a savvy choice, as Statham’s action films have begun to decline in quality. Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre did not start a franchise like it was intended to, and the latest The Fast and the Furious sequels have taken the franchise in a ridiculous direction that it may never recover from. It’s unfortunate to see Statham’s talents wasted in roles like these, as the films’ inflated budgets detract from the unique aspects of his personality. Scaling things back might be the best way for Statham to return to his roots.

Statham has a unique opportunity in front of him, as he has earned a loyal following who may be interested in any new project, regardless of genre. If action stars like Stallone and Schwarzeneggar have succeeded in comedic roles, there’s nothing to indicate that Statham couldn’t do the same. He’s such a charismatic star that avoiding the romantic comedy genre would be a missed opportunity.

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