(Steven Knight, 2013)
Hummingbird is about as close as Jason Statham gets these days to working in non-genre cinema. That is to say it's still a genre film, it just has fewer action sequences than the majority of his films do. In their place there is much more dramatic content which requires a lot more from him as an actor, and he delivers fairly well, giving a sensitive, sustained and committed reading of a particular shade to his usual grim and ultra-violent hero.
He plays Joey, an ex Special forces soldier who has escaped from a Military Asylum after an incident in Afghanistan and is living rough in the streets of Central London. A violent encounter leads him to take shelter in the vacant Covent Garden apartment of a photographer, and while recovering there, Joey begins to put his life back together. He finds work as an enforcer for the Chinese mob, using his earnings to help the mission for the homeless run by Sister Cristina (Agata Buzek), while searching for the killer of his friend Isabel. Of course, he and Cristina develop feelings for one another, and Joey's past is never very far away.
While it initially seems like it might be a boiler plate Statham revenge actioner, Hummingbird eventually emerges as a love story between two damaged people. Joey and Cristina's story is told against the complicated tapestry writer-director Knight paints of modern London, here luminously shot by old master Chris Menges as a neon-slicked nocturnal city. This tale takes in protection rackets, prostitution, the restaurant trade, the art world and the police, and Statham broods his way through all of it, only occasionally allowed to explode into violence. He and Buzek have some chemistry, and their relationship is oddly touching despite the awkward set-up of some entirely cliched material.
But Statham's very presence seems to tug the film in another direction; for all it's evenly paced seriousness and the many talky scenes about emotions and plot, it almost feels as if it wants to be an action film, and Knight correspondingly stages the few brutal fight scenes with vivid panache.
Still, it's an interesting change of pace for the star, and it reveals a few more emotional registers within his range, even while it is much more entertaining when he is hurting people.