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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Scoring Statham
Shelley O’Brien

Crank (2006) and Crank: High Voltage (2009) feature Jason Statham as the seemingly invincible hitman, Chev Chelios. The riotous premise in both films – a race against time to stay alive due to (a) an injection of lethal poison; and (b) having his heart removed and replaced with a battery-powered one – is scored accordingly. Both films are styled as videogame narratives, and the music scoring functions to emphasise, simultaneously, the rapid pace of the outlandish proceedings and the witty, hardman persona of Statham. This chapter will present a close analysis of both scores and highlight how they operate in relation to the narrative and as sonic signifiers of Statham's image.

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Jason Statham: star!

This book offers an investigative analysis into the post-millennium rise to global stardom of British actor, Jason Statham.

It presents original ideas focusing on new notions about film and cult actor stardom and celebrity. Using in-depth analysis of Statham’s work across a range of multimedia platforms, including chapters dedicated to his film, pop promo, videogaming and tabloid persona, each essay will present this British actor as a postmodern phenomenon in a quickly changing media world.

Chapters include: new ideas about the reframing of post-millennial British film masculinity; Statham as an anti-hero; his videogaming work; investigations into his art films; the music of Crank; Statham’s clothes in his modelling, pop promo and film work; work across a variety of genres; his ensemble approach in The Expendables, and how he ages in that franchise; and a personal essay from Statham’s director of Spy – Paul Feig.

The book is written in a fluid and approachable style but would be of particular benefit to students of film, stardom, celebrity, gender and social studies. Its approach will also appeal to the general member of the public and fan of Jason Statham.

Contributors include Professor Robert Shail (Stanley Baker and Children’s Film Foundation) Professor James Chapman (James Bond), Dr Steven Gerrard (Modern British Horror and the Carry On films) and Hollywood film director Paul Feig.

Jason Statham, fandom and a new type of (anti) hero
Renee Middlemost

Jason Statham’s work has seen his career trajectory rise from bit-part player to major film star. His roles are often defined into Richard Dyer’s ‘star persona’ categories of hero or bad guy, for example with Homefront where he plays a father/hero, or in Furious 7 where he plays the villain. However, many of his roles see him as an anti-hero, trying to make it in a tough and cynical world. Increasingly, this persona as anti-hero has meant that Statham’s work now translates across media. He voices characters in videogames Call of Duty and Red Faction II, and was used as the model for the villain, Vulture in The Ultimate Spiderman. But he also has a clean-cut image, which overturns his ‘usual’ persona. He has celebrity branding that endorses Audi cars, French Connection clothing, Gazprom G-Energy and even Kit Kat chocolate.

So just what is Jason Statham’s appeal? This chapter will discuss ways in which fandom, celebrity culture and cult outlooks can unravel the complexities of the ‘normal’ Jason Statham persona in terms of his appeal to both niche and wider audiences.

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Steven Gerrard and Robert Shail

With his chiselled features, mock-cockney mid-Atlantic accent, toned physique and steely gaze, Jason Statham has a right to the title of Britain’s current leading male movie star. From growing up as the son of a market stallholder, becoming a competing member of Britain’s National Diving Squad at the 1990 Commonwealth Games, and selling perfume on a street corner in London, Statham has risen through the ranks of supporting roles to become a global film star in his own right.

His career has been varied. He has been a model, pop video Adonis, bit-part actor, cameo actor and now mainstream film star. He has charisma, and a screen presence that demanded he could be a star, to become a recognisable and bankable box office name, making the leap into Hollywood blockbuster action movies.

In an era when British actors have come to represent the villains in comic book franchises, donned costume in period films and reflected Britain’s collapsing social structure in gritty dramas, Statham remains Statham: tough, sardonic and chisel-jawed. By placing the actor into his context, this edited collection will examine the phenomenon that is Jason Statham. The introduction sets the tone for this investigation into the Statham-phenomenon.

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The cult persona of Jason Statham, Hollywood outsider
Jonathan Mack

Jason Statham does not generally rely on subcultural capital or niche appeal to support his celebrity status. Nevertheless, he has cultivated an image as a Hollywood outsider, and attained an uncommon level of perceived authenticity among audiences. It is possible to see Statham as one of the most successful cult film stars of recent years. From his streets-to-screen backstory to his reputation for performing his own stunts and his brutal honesty in interviews, Statham’s apparent detachment from Hollywood is critical to much of his mainstream success and makes him an ideal figure for the metareferential appeal of The Expendables and the Fast and Furious franchises.

Statham has transitioned from capable, comedic everyman to invincible action hero while maintaining enough self-awareness to play with his own public perception by taking roles like that of the incompetent Rick Ford in Spy. This is a journey that parallels the Fast and Furious series, which has transformed from low-key crime drama into excessive action spectacle bordering on self-parody, also appreciated as knowing and self-reflexive enough to be set apart from his contemporaries. This chapter will argue that such qualities allow Statham to enjoy both mainstream and cult stardom, which are not mutually exclusive.

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Subverting genre and gender
Clare Smith

Connery … Lazenby … Moore … Dalton … Brosnan … Craig … and now … STATHAM!

The hunt for the new James Bond is on. With a huge panoply of actors – British or otherwise – to choose from, Ian Fleming’s super-secret spy must always retain a certain charm to win over a public used to seeing the toughest of secret agents battling it out on the silver screen. While names like Tom Hiddlestone, Daniel Lewis and Idris Elba garner much media attention, one man has constantly been left out. Yet he has all the qualities to make a great James Bond. Who? Jason Statham. And he has already played a secret agent on the big screen…

In the 2015 film Spy Jason Statham played… Jason Statham. As the incompetent Rick Ford, Statham’s role is a combination of every character he has ever played from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels to Crank to The Transporter.

Although he has become an alpha-male screen archetype, his role in Spy undermines and transforms that archetype. This genre-focused chapter will deconstruct the film Spy in terms of its linkage to the spy genre, and in particular Statham’s role as a new, incompetent version of James Bond, in which the film not only brings the attitudes and genre tropes that the audience expects but then subverts them.

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