Despite the somewhat innocuous title, Steven Knight’s directorial debut Hummingbird – starring arguably Britain’s most renowned action hero in Jason Statham – is not about the grandiose bakery chain, and instead follows the rags to riches tale of a homeless man who comes into some good fortune. A shame, because this film may actually be better off if it was about cupcakes.
Statham plays Joey Jones, an ex-Special Forces soldier who finds himself homeless on the streets of London, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. However one evening, when on the run from a couple of local hooligans, Joey climbs into the nearest flat he can find – and when he breaks in, he realises that the wealthy tenant is away in New York for a number of months. Assuming the stranger’s identity – and finding his new credit card in the post – suddenly Joey has gone from having nothing to everything he ever wanted, although this all changes when his girlfriend is found dead in the river. Joey then gets a job working for the Chinese mafia to help hunt down the killer, whilst in the meantime seeking solace in the form of the kind-hearted nun Cristina (Agata Buzek).
The narrative certainly has some scope to it, as not only is it intensely enjoyable to see Statham take the law into his own hands, but the Great Expectations-like rags to riches tale of the underdog is a compelling one, particularly in the hands of the esteemed Oscar nominated screenwriter, Knight (Dirty Pretty Things, Eastern Promises) – yet surprisingly it’s the script that lets this feature down. It’s just not very well written, there are no two ways about it. With a series of horribly cliched sequences and mawkish romantic moments, this potentially absorbing drama simply falls flat.
That said, Statham does do as well as he possibly can with what he’s given, and he certainly has a knack for delivering punchy one-liners (“I’ll kill you with this spoon” a particular highlight). His performance on the whole is impressive, and there is a genuine chemistry between himself and Buzek. There is also a supporting role for Vicky McClure, yet sadly the immensely talented actress is not given the screen time she deserves.
There is no denying Hummingbird’s ability to keep the viewer engaged and as it builds towards the latter stages you do grow increasingly curious as to how this film may conclude. However the finale is played down somewhat and lacking in any tangible suspense. When a film is evidently building towards a dramatic conclusion, for it to feel almost restrained and lacking in magnitude, it really does leave the title with little saving grace. And while nit-picking – isn’t it amazing how the man who left his apartment free for a few months has the exact same shirt size as Statham. His stylish wardrobe fits our Joey like a glove.
On the whole Hummingbird is relatively good fun and Statham plays Statham in a way that only Statham possibly can – and given there’s a worldwide market for that these days, his fans will no doubt be pleased to hear such news. However it just feels too inconsequential and therefore forgettable as a result. On the plus side, given the film’s location and variety of scenes taking place across Soho and Covent Garden – at least Londoners can play the ever so enjoyable “Oooh I’ve walked past that” game.