Review: Hummingbird (2013)

Director: Steven Knight | 100 minutes | action, crime, drama, thriller | Actors: Jason Statham, Agata Buzek, Victoria Bewick, Vicky McClure, Benedict Wong, Ger Ryan, Youssef Kerkour, Anthony Morris, Christian Brassington, Danny Webb, Sang Lui, Bruce Wang, David Bradley, Siobhan Hewlett, Steven Beard, John Killoran, Lillie Buttery, Adam Skeats, Macey Chipping, Jason Wong, Emaa Hussen, Ed Gaughan, Ian Pirie, Sheng-Chien Tsai, Josef Altin, Christopher Logan, Jeff Mirza

For those wondering, the translation of this cryptic movie title is Hummingbird, which indicates a nickname for military drones. Jason Statham stars in “Hummingbird”, Steven Knight’s directorial debut. Mainly known as the screenwriter of the well-received films “Dirty Pretty Things” (2002) and “Eastern Promises” (2007), he can now also take on the role of director. At least one thing “Hummingbird” has in common with the aforementioned films: the city of London plays a prominent role.

After a traumatic event during his service in Afghanistan, homeless Joey (Jason Statham) roams the streets of London with fellow sufferer Isabel (Victoria Bewick). Fleeing from a number of street robbers, he accidentally ends up in a provisionally empty, luxurious apartment. Joey decides to assume the identity of the absent resident to get his life back on track. He shares his newly acquired wealth with his old homeless shelter, run by sister Christina (Agata Buzek). Christina acts as Joey’s conscience, trying to help him start a new life. When Joey starts working as a bodyguard for the Chinese mafia and Isabel is missing, it is still the question whether this will work.

Attention action movie enthusiasts! This is not the typical Jason Statham action movie as we have come to expect from him. “Hummingbird can best be described as a crime drama with action elements. The relationship between Joey and Sister Christina is central to this grim London fairy tale, although this is not to say that there is no fighting in this film. Especially a scene with a spoon in the lead is very entertaining.

Just like other films that directorial debutant Steven Knight worked on, the dark side of London is exposed in a realistic, documentary-like way. The city is really used as an extra character in the film, a big compliment to the cinematography. Jason Statham shows with “Hummingbird” that he not only can be an action hero, but also has some acting talent.

Regarding control, there is still something to be learned from the titular bird, there is too much hopping on two legs: action or drama. A number of melodramatic storylines are touched but do not come into their own, such as the traumatic event in Afghanistan. And other plot developments such as the implausible sexual tension between Joey and Christina feel a bit forced.

“Hummingbird” is a somewhat successful experiment. It is a showcase for Jason Statham’s diversity and the London setting has been perfectly worked out, but from a strong screenwriter like Steven Knight you would expect a more unambiguous story to be told.

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