One Trick Pony or Artist?


image of Jason Statham

I, know its not a big deal usually for someone to have a difference in opinion to share, or even for them to not like something someone else does enjoy.  But once that opinion is out there, once you have made it known that you don’t like something that they do enjoy, at what point is that sharing of opinion stop being a, “This is how I feel.” conversation and become a dead horse with brains and such spread like Pâté on a cracker all over the street?  Take for instance Jason Statham.  Some folks I have heard have said that every one of his films are the same.  I would argue that while Jason has a very distinctive look and sound that makes him stand out in any film, in each of his films are different characters. I’ll elaborate:

The Transporter‘s, Frank Morgan; physically a tough as nails hard fighting loner soldier with a mysterious past who has fallen into criminal life, but due to his honorable background and personal code of conduct & morals he can’t let innocents get hurt, any more than he can let transgressions against himself go without reprisal.

The Italian Job‘s ‘Handsome Rob’; Incredibly loyal team player with a penchant for both women and cars. Doesn’t really mind taking from those who can afford to lose it, but not willing to hit a man whose already down on his luck. His friendship isn’t bought, its earned, but once earned, he’ll follow you through the gates of hell without question and lay his life down if that’s what it takes to hold up his end of any promise he’s ever made.

Crank‘s Chev Chilios; A bad man with an ugly past and none to pretty future, only has one thing in his life that he really cares about, his girlfriend Eve. When he gets poisoned and knows he’s going to die, he goes on the offensive, not so much to save his own life, but more to insure that those that ended his, don’t further hurt the ones he cares about. He takes on the entire underworld to track down and make sure the death of him, doesn’t bring down everyone else’s lives too. It’s not about personal honor, its not about saving the world, its about having the last word and making sure Eve isn’t caught up in the middle of it all.

War‘s Crawford; Top cop with a decent future and a partner/friend/brother who gets killed sending Crawford’s own life into a spiraling decent of anger and a burning need to bring justice to those that killed his partner. His life is angry retaliation against all criminals stemming from his inability to get the one that not only got away, but destroyed the best part of who and what he loved about living his life. When years later his past begins to haunt him, he goes after it again with the same vengeance that he was using to fill the hole in his life since his partners death.

The Expendables Lee Christmas; A mercenary who’s team has become his surrogate family. He feels their pains and shares their troubles, wearing his own emotions more on his sleeve than he would like to admit. He falls in love easily and has a history of failed relationships with poor choices. He believes in not only his own chances for happiness, but promotes that all his friends have that same chance, if they’d open their eyes, and lives to the opportunities all around them. Tired of getting stomped on by life, and looking for that one really big score to change everything, he fights for his family, but believes the mission has to be worth making a difference before he gets into it. Much like Handsome Rob, he will follow his team into hell if they ask it. Unlike Rob, he’d be in front fighting to save them while they escaped, while Rob would be driving the vehicle to get the team away from the trouble.

Safe‘s Luke Write; A political pawn who was well trained and paid to both fight and kill for the money. Dropped into a crooked city with dirty life and nothing but the job keeping him going, he falls in love and gets married. He drops off radar and tries to change his life to be a better person, because thats what she would want and now it all makes sense to him now in a way that baffles him. The criminal groups he was dealing with before return, kill his wife, destroy his life, and begin following him and killing or burning to the ground everything he shows any interest or care for. With nothing left to live for, on the verge of ending it, he see’s a young girl in over her head, it snaps him out of it, and in saving him, he decides to return the favor. As fates would have it this brings both the major crime families and a the police after the girl and him. So he goes back to what he was trained to do and begins the long process of ripping the cities bad folks lives to the ground and building up the walls for the girls protection and to get them both out alive and safe.

Each of these characters has different motivations for doing what they do, they all have different lives, different goals, and different problems or hurdles to overcome. The one thing they have in common is that Jason Statham brings his kick ass attitude and skill set to play the part. Actors like Jason have both a boon and a problem following their every movie. On the one hand, they are known for action and kicking ass/driving fast and solving problems with that sort of punch or shoot first morals. This brings them a certain fan base (like me), but it also means that each project they get offered will usually involve some of the same things as the others they worked on.  This brings critics and folks who see these films as one dimensional mirror copies of each other, fuel to berate and attack his body of work.

If I’m good at art, and animation, and I start work as an animator, fan’s, friends, and family will see each project I work on and praise me for their individual achievements and or minor variances.  And if I do some major difference, I’d get support and pats on the back for that too.  But again others might see my version of say ‘Steampunk Willy’ and my version of ‘The In-edibles’ for instance as the same thing because they both have my signature style of art attached to them. Tearing apart someones entire body of work, just because they put their signature style on it, as the same thing over and over again is a little narrow visioned in my book. It’s a lot like saying all teenagers are criminals just because you know a few who are.  I’m not saying they are wrong for that thought or opinion, hell I feel that way about a lot of actors I don’t enjoy.  Actors like the mouth breather Kristen Stewart, or Richard Gere, or several others I could name.  But if I don’t like them, I’ll only bring it up if someone asks me to watch one of their movies.  And I don’t say all their movies are the same, only that I can’t watch one of their films and not see the actor, instead of the character they are playing because I don’t like their signature, or seeing them takes me out of the movie experience.

So yeah, I get it, in one part of the post here I defend Jason Statham’s “signature style of acting” and then turn right around and berate others for having a signature of their own.  But this isn’t so much about Jason or Kristen or Richard, its about how we treat each other.  I enjoy something another doesn’t like, they have a right to tell me they don’t like it.  But if I chose to continue enjoying that thing without them in honor of the knowledge they didn’t like it, them continuing to tell me how wrong I am for liking it doesn’t change me, it only irritates me.  And yes, I readily admit that I am very O.C.D. when it comes to certain things.  This being one of them.  Its just a personality quark of mine I guess.  Maybe a signature?  Call it what you want, but lets have a regular discussion about it and try not to talk down or insult one another.