Written and Directed by Steven Knight.
Starring Jason Statham, Agata Buzek, Vicky McClure, Benedict Wong, Ger Ryan, and Youssef Kerkour.
Former British serviceman Joey is homeless and on the run from a military court martial. Damaged by his experiences and living under the heel of society, he seizes an opportunity to assume another man’s identity and tries to transform himself into something better.
Hummingbird is not your normal Jason Statham film. If you are expecting another basic actioner like The Transporter or The Expendables, then you’ll most likely not know what to make of this outing. Directed by Steven Knight, writer of Eastern Promises, this is a slow-burning character piece charting a man’s attempt at finding redemption.
After a swift opening showing hints at Joey’s past, we pick up the story with him a year later, homeless and receiving a fierce beating in an alleyway. Escaping further pain, Joey literally drops into his new life by way of breaking into an empty home, and it’s here we see him begin trying to turn his life around. He gets a job working for some unsavoury people and this is where the flaws of the story start to become apparent.
Hummingbird is a confusing piece as it never seems to know what its goal or the goals of its characters are. We have Joey (Jason Statham) – a man who is clearly trying to escape his past and better himself – earning money by doing muscle work for organised criminals in Soho. He carries out his work with a lack of empathy which is chilling in the least and is seemingly burying his emotions in his vicious work. However, much of the money he’s earning from these crimes he’s giving to the homeless shelter and the nun that helped him. This left me puzzled as I wasn’t sure whether to think of him as a modern day Robin Hood character or just as someone so racked by guilt that he didn’t know what else to do with himself.
While all of this is going on, there’s an underlying story of a missing woman who Joey used to live with on the streets. This should be the story’s main focus yet feels severely underutilised to the point where it feels sometimes like an afterthought, purely added to try and give the character more depth.
Another sticking point is the relationship that develops between Joey and Sister Cristina, a nun who works at the soup kitchen Joey used to visit. The scenes with this pairing are sometimes very jarring and become disruptive to the overall tone of the film as we move from scenes of violence to a peculiar romance and then to a redemption piece.
What does work in Hummingbird however is the man himself, Jason Statham. He manages to portray both a haggard transient as well as an unflinching thug with an honesty and believability which is pleasantly surprising. Combining simple emotion with short bursts of violence gives us one of the best performances Statham has ever produced and hints at a much deeper talent then we’ve previously seen.
The film is also beautifully shot and just about manages to avoid the regular clichés of filming in London. Excellent camera work and a well-judged use of colour help to elevate this film from something that could have looked much more mundane.
Unfortunately though, the marvellously framed presence of Statham doesn’t cover up the many issues that this film has. Whether it’s the peculiar character development or a romance that seems forced, Hummingbird has too many issues to be a classic and feels as though it could have been so much better had there been a slightly more experienced director behind the camera.
As a Statham fan I was pleased with what he showed me, yet at the same time I was disappointed as Hummingbird could have truly been something to propel him into the next realm of superstardom. I just hope that his next film is something more like this – nobody wants to see The Transporter 4.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Ozzy Armstrong is a Stargate and Rocky superfan. Follow him on Twitter.