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Michael Leonard
in Philippe Garrel
Andrew B. R. Elliott

If the concept of using credibility as a marker of quality is often true for the depiction of the past wherein even the slightest incongruity can be fatal, it is especially true for the biblical film. Alongside the development of special effects there have also arisen tropes and conventions which have become hallmarks of the epic and which are here used to support a biblical epic aesthetic. This chapter builds on ideas about effects in the epic film as an expression of verisimilitude, but here I propose instead to discuss effects not as guarantor of verisimilitude, but as ‘part of an overall process in which cinema displays itself and its powers’ (Neale 1980: 35) and how effects act as a function of spectacle, becoming part of an industrial selling point driving audiences to the cinema.

in The Bible onscreen in the new millennium
Iconoclasm and film genre in The Passion of the Christ and Hail, Caesar!
Martin Stollery

This chapter considers Hail, Caesar! (2016) as a distinctive, although far from dogmatic, Jewish American meditation on visual representation of ‘the godhead’ and invocations of faith in classic Hollywood and post-classic cinema. In some ways, Hail, Caesar! is an indirect riposte to The Passion of the Christ (2004). I also consider Hail, Caesar!’s exploration of these issues in relation to A Serious Man (2009), the Coens’ early meditation, albeit in a different mode, on faith, and Ben-Hur (1959). Hail, Caesar! reworks the Charlton Heston Ben-Hur more profoundly and compellingly than the blockbuster remake of this film released later in 2016.

in The Bible onscreen in the new millennium
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Expendable Expendable?
Natasha Parcei

This chapter investigates how The Expendables film series constructs and frames the age identity of Lee Christmas, played by Jason Statham, by reading his position in the narrative in order to understand how ageing is represented in action cinema. Much of the critical attention for this series has been focused on the hyper-masculine ageing body of the franchise’s lead actor, Sylvester Stallone. This chapter will look at the construction of Christmas’s age identity as a middle-aged man during the unstable cultural position of middle-agedness. It will also focus on how the middle-aged action hero is constructed in the three Expendables films to date. It begins with an overview of the film series’ premise, followed by a brief outline of relevant critical ageing theory, then a consideration of how Christmas’s age construction aligns with the ageing theories of decline, prowess and the culture of the Third Age.

in Crank it up
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Martin Carter

Jason Statham’s mock-Cockney attitudes have remained virtually unchanged across his range of roles. Whether in America or Britain, Italy or small South American islands, Statham has rarely ventured into exploring the culture of his surroundings. However, his role as Frank in the French Transporter films offer a tantalising glimpse into examining the interaction of a British star as ‘transnational body’. This chapter will examine Statham’s work within the codes of these international action movies.

in Crank it up
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Exploring the virtualisation of the Statham brand
Dean Bowman and Erin Pearson

It is no secret that videogames are no longer for children. Over 65% of American households play videogames, and the average age of a gamer is 35. Celebrity videogame endorsements offer an innovative way to infuse brands into the lives of their customers. In today’s celebrity-obsessed culture, a famous face can instantly make or break a product’s popularity. Celebrities are chosen with care. What do they bring to the product? How will it help increase their own brand? Does it work?

By examining videogames such as Red Faction II, Call of Duty and Sniper X, this chapter will explore how they work to reflect and expand both Statham’s fan base appeal (through his own website and fan-based ones) and the celebrity brand that is Jason Statham. By focusing on the militaristic and gaming aspects of Statham’s corpus of work, and the ways that this negotiates the machismo and masculinity that form a distinctive part of his brand identity, it will reveal how the idea of ‘celebrity’ has come to incorporate not just acting roles, but has become part of a transmedia world in which the ‘rules’ of cultdom, fandom, celebrity and stardom combine to produce one overall package: Jason Statham.

in Crank it up
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Jason Statham and the ensemble fi lm
Sarah Thomas

As an action star, Statham is a somewhat unusual performer. He is an extraordinary individual star who brings something new to the field with his visually stunning physical prowess, complex stunt work and ambiguous transnational persona. But he presents more than just that of the quick-fire lone wolf tradition. Many of his leading roles are well sustained by interaction with compelling secondary casts (such as the Crank and Transporter franchises), and even his comic turn in Spy works so effectively due to the fractious relationship created with other figures.

His screen presence is often not the singularly extraordinary ‘best of the best’, but more akin to ‘[one of the] best of the best’. His acting reflects this stance. Therefore, this chapter will explore the landscape of Jason Statham’s performances in order to think about Statham’s own individual acting technique and how this functions across wider ensemble casts – from supporting players to other major icons of cinema.

in Crank it up
The Bank Job (2008) and the British heist movie
James Chapman

This chapter is a case study of the 2008 British-made heist/caper movie The Bank Job – a film based (loosely) on the 1971 Baker Street robbery. In common with other modern British (and Statham) films such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, The Bank Job demonstrates a postmodern awareness of its status as a genre film and is replete with references to British popular culture – a feature that might be attributed to the agency of writers Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais. The chapter will therefore locate the film within the cultural and genre lineages of the British heist movie – a taxonomy that also includes celebrated Ealing comedies (The Lavender Hill Mob and The Ladykillers), sixties international capers (The Italian Job – remade in Hollywood in 2003 featuring Statham as ‘Handsome Rob’ – and Maroc 7), period adventures (The First Great Train Robbery) and ‘true crime’ pictures (Buster and the 2013 television drama The Great Train Robbery). The chapter will also consider the reception discourses of The Bank Job in order to assess the extent to which it was understood as a Statham star vehicle (marking Statham’s ‘return to Britain’ at a time when his star was in the ascendancy in Hollywood) and/or as a homage to the history of the British caper/adventure movie.

in Crank it up
Jason Statham’s sartorial style
Steven Gerrard

Clothing plays a pivotal role in the social, contextual and sexual construction of identity. So does nakedness. Both provide direct evidence of status, gender and cultural agency, stressing norms of appropriate appearances at particular points in time. However, both can also be used to subvert traditional meanings, to overturn ideas of regional identity, social class and sexuality. This chapter will investigate how Statham’s (often) near-nakedness and his sartorial (non) elegance become representative of identity, and as cultural signifiers across his filmic work.

in Crank it up
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Steven Gerrard and Robert Shail

Jason Statham remains an important face of the film industry. His work has encompassed TV, pop video, advertising, celebrity magazine, videogaming and film. The conclusion of this edited collection sums up his importance as a model of cultural significance, while simultaneously offering up ideas about ‘future’ outlooks for the British actor.

in Crank it up