Always the anti-hero, Jason Statham is back again to clean up the streets in Steven Knight’s Hummingbird, the story of a now-homeless war veteran who turns vigilante after his fellow street-dweller Isabel is murdered. Unfortunately for Knight, the plot is anything but killer.
Jason Statham plays Jason Statham Joseph Smith, an ex-Royal Marine living on the streets while on the run from the Military Court for committing a heinous act in Afghanistan. As we were introduced to Smith, with his long dirty hair and grimy tracksuit, I thought to myself: “Finally! A Jason Statham film where he isn’t smartly dressed and rich – or bald!” and when the two cockney gangsters started pummelling him: “And he doesn’t know how to fight!” Well I soon felt like an idiot for thinking that would be the case because not 5 minutes later he just so happens to stumble into the house of a very wealthy photographer, who also, coincidentally, is out of town for months. And the first thing he does when he breaks in? He shaves his head and puts on a suit – damn it. Well there’s still the lack of fighting ability, right? Nope! By shaving his head, Statham pulls some sort of reverse-Samson and never gets hit by a single punch, kick or bullet in the remainder of the film. This is the exact type of role that I’m bored of Statham playing. I would be much more interested in seeing The Adventures of Hobo Statham but, as in a lot of his other films, he always finds a way to become the perfect street-fighting action hero.
Well he’s not entirely perfect. One thing that did stop Hummingbird from being a total disaster is the way that it shows Smith’s damaged mind. Occasionally Smith will experience surreal, sometimes disturbing, visions and flashbacks, such as the vision of a man hanging by a noose with a bag on his head or the imaginary hummingbirds flying around his bedroom. I found these dream-like elements to be an entertaining way to show Smith’s state of mind and how his days in the war still affect him now. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen frequently enough, as most plot elements – including avenging Isabel, which I assumed was the main storyline – is pushed aside to make way for what I believe to be the most ridiculous part of the film: his relationship with a nun named Cristina.
Cristina, played by Agata Buzek, is a sex attack victim who turned to the sisterhood at a young age after being raped 17 times by her ballet instructor. She met Smith while serving food to the homeless on the streets of London and, when Smith luckily becomes wealthy, he decides to thank her by giving her £500. Now, bearing in mind that, at this point, Smith has made it his aim to avenge Isabel, he seems to lose all chivalry as he attempts to woo Cristina by buying her a dress and inviting her to a gallery of male nudity photos. And, of course, it works, because nothing would get a sexually-abused nun to give up her lifelong vow of abstinence than a date with Hobo Statham In A Suit in a museum of dick-pics. It’s one of the most ridiculous and pointless displays of masculinity and vanity that I have seen in a long time.
Not everything is terrible, however. I can’t fault the camera-work, fight choreography or psychological aspects of the film, and despite not being the greatest actor, Statham certainly knows how to play these kinds of roles. But unfortunately all of this does not save Hummingbird from being an unfocused mixture of happenstance and needless male prowess.
by Tom Woodcock