The last time hard man Jason Statham shed a tear on camera, he was probably recoiling from a swift kick to his expendables in one of the testosterone-fuelled action thrillers that have become his trademark.
Big guys, who single-handedly take down criminal fraternities and enjoy gratuitous sex scenes with gymnastic women, don’t cry.
Not in public anyway.
So it’s a revelation to find Statham laying himself emotionally bare in Hummingbird, a gritty portrait of present day London, which suggests there might be a decent actor behind the muscle and stubbled chin.
Admittedly, Steven Knight’s feature directorial debut doesn’t test his mettle too strenuously and the narrative is punctuated with bone-crunching skirmishes.
However, the fisticuffs are passing interludes, necessary to demonstrate the tortured central character’s inglorious past as a soldier, for whom killing was once as easy as taking a breath.
Echoing the grim mood of his scripts for Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises, Knight once again paints the capital as a grimy melting pot of wasted lives and exploitation rather than a gleaming metropolis of neon-lit skyscrapers and opportunity.
The violence is graphic but used sparingly, and at least one growling aside (“You tell me what happened to her or I’ll kill you with this spoon!”) elicits snorts of derision.
Star Rating: 6/10