Steven Knight’s Hummingbird, starring Jason Statham, tells the story of Joey Jones, a homeless ex-marine and member of London’s criminal underworld who seeks revenge against those responsible for his girlfriend’s death. At its core, the film attempts to be about redemption and what it means to be ”good”. Unfortunately, though valiant, well-shot and at times thought provoking, the film isn’t about much at all.
Despite its noble efforts to introduce heart into the typically hollow British gangster genre, the film incorporates far too many heavy themes and therefore fails to deal with most of them effectively. Half-heartedly exploring homelessness, violence, crime, sex, religion, alcoholism, income inequality, absentee parenting, human trafficking and the quest for identity, Hummingbird has bitten off more than it can chew.
The film is littered with unfortunate clichés that cheapen what could have been an engaging storyline. The use of war flashbacks to explain Statham’s tortured mind and alcoholism is uninspired, as is the two-minute Rocky-esque montage depicting him ”getting his life back together”. It is predictable and bland, which is a real shame. In addition, there are some truly terrible and cringe-worthy cameos that, again, belittle the narrative. Overall, the frequent and insultingly shallow dialogue makes it difficult for the main characters to emerge as anything more than two-dimensional, and it is consequently tough to feel much empathy for them.
As is to be expected of Statham, there are some great one liners, most notably when he threatens to kill a homeless man ”with a spoon,” but the action is surprisingly infrequent and mostly without suspense; there is no sense of danger at all.
However, it is very well shot. Knight’s parallel between the beautiful London skyline and the gritty underbelly beneath it is powerful and stimulating in its portrayal of these two very different worlds. Statham (as always) oozes cool with his sharp eyes, sharp suit and sharp cockney accent.
Overall, the film is simply too ambitious and therefore fails to be truly engaging. It isn’t dramatic enough to be a drama, it isn’t thrilling enough to be a thriller and there isn’t enough action to be an action film. As a viewer, you leave with a sense of dissatisfaction at having experienced so little. It is certainly original as far as British gangster flicks go, but isn’t gritty or entertaining.
Hummingbird is released nationwide on 28th June 2013.
Watch the trailer for Hummingbird here: