5) Crank (2006)
For this heroically absurd movie to succeed, it required a fully committed and stunt-capable star, and Statham gives it his all. Hitman Chev Chelios has been dosed with a toxin that will kill him within an hour unless he can generate adrenaline: cue an escalating series of high-octane encounters, from snorting drugs off grubby bathroom floors to having al fresco make-up sex in the middle of the street. Crank is hyper-violent and often puerile, but it maintains its insane momentum to the last, with stomach-flipping scenes of Statham dangling out of a helicopter door high above LA that might even make Hollywood’s first daredevil Tom Cruise go: Nah, too risky.
4) Death Race (2008)
All the satirical edges of the cult 1975 movie Death Race 2000, about a deadly motor rally across the US, were filed off for this uninspired remake, set entirely on a drab prison island. As a coerced driver, Statham looks convincingly glum.
3) Spy (2015)
Statham had dabbled in comedy – the Crank franchise is essentially energy-drink slapstick, and he has a cameo in Steve Martin’s 2006 Pink Panther remake – but Paul Feig’s slick espionage spoof was the first movie to let him go for it. The results are astonishing. As CIA operative Rick Ford, Stath is a boggle-eyed, blowhard Bond, so incensed that timid analyst Melissa McCarthy has been deployed in the field that he scatters F-bombs everywhere while blustering his way through his secret agent achievements: “I’ve swallowed enough microchips and shit them back out again to make a computer!”. He rants. He raves. He gurns. Moreover, he remains convinced that the agency has a fully-functioning Face/Off machine. Starring in all those heist films finally paid off: Statham steals the movie.
2) The Mechanic (2011)
Slotting Statham into a remake of an old Charles Bronson movie makes much sense: both built successful careers out of playing variations on the same capable archetype, attracting loyal fans who like to know what they are getting. As a meticulous freelance assassin who specialises in making his kills look like accidents, Statham receives a lot of methodical set-pieces in this underrated thriller and seems ice-cool when paired with twitchy apprentice Ben Foster. This also feels like the point where Statham took full control of his screen image, cruising around sunny New Orleans in covetable chunky knitwear and luxurious turtlenecks, now his signature look.
1) Fast and Furious 8 (2017)
Such was his charisma in Fast 7, Statham’s freelance lousy guy Deckard Shaw found himself repositioned as a goodie in the most significant new action franchise, while his ongoing alpha-dog feud with the mighty Dwayne Johnson was deemed entertaining enough to warrant their imminent spin-off, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. In this expensive but disjointed action-fest, Statham is also given the most exhilarating solo showcase: scooping up a kidnapped baby while engaging in brutal close-quarters combat with several angry mercenaries on a compromised cargo plane. It’s John Wick: The Childminder Years as Stath makes comforting goo-goo noises between ruthless headshots.
Source: The Guardian