In Jason Statham's latest adrenaline-pumping actioner, the Vegas-set Wild Card, America's favorite British brawler plays Nick Wild, a recovering gambler turned private bodyguard who finds himself in a heap of trouble when he helps a young prostitute enact revenge against the vicious mobster who wronged her. Nick hits all the marks of your prototypical Statham role— a brooding loner with deep-rooted personal issues, a smart mouth, and a penchant for opening up some serious cans of whoop-ass— but as an avid Statham fan myself, I couldn’t help but notice that this character falls under another surprisingly common thread in J-Stay’s filmography: he’s a former military man. Whether it’s Statham’s jutting jaw, his rangy face, or his stoic aura, there’s something about this vaguely cockney ex-con which apparently makes casting directors think time and time again, “this guy looks like he’s seen some combat.” But, hey, if it ain’t broken, why fix it? As such, without further ado, I present 5 awesome Jason Statham characters with ex-military backgrounds:
LEE CHRISTMAS: As featured in Sylvester Stallone’s block-busting The Expendables trilogy, this Statham character is the team’s second in command—a no nonsense mercenary with a smart mouth and a knack for knife-play. He also happens to be an former member of the British Special Air Services (SAS).
Frank Martin: Perhaps one of Statham’s best known roles, this protagonist of Luc Besson's The Transporter series is an expert driver and accomplished martial artist, who uses his extreme skill set to courier dangerous “packages” to their high-paying owners. However, before he got into Transporting, Frank was a highly trained Special Forces operative.
Jericho Butler: One of Statham’s earliest Stateside roles was in John Carpenter’s gory schlock-fest Ghosts of Mars (2001), where he plays this grizzled lieutenant stationed on Mars circa the year 2200. Using his military training, Jericho must fight off a group of vicious, demon-possessed settlers as they attempt to brutally pick off his entire unit.
Joseph Smith: Lest you think this list is deriding Jason Statham for lacking range, his turn in low-budget indie drama Redemption proves just the opposite. Statham brings real, nuanced pathos to the role of Joseph Smith, an ex-Special Forces soldier who abandoned his unit in Afghanistan to become a drunken, homeless vagrant, struggling to survive with PTSD on the streets of London.
Nick Wild: And we’ve come full circle. In his latest ex-military role, Statham again shows the mix of brute strength and wry humor which initially made him a star. Wild Card is an interesting blend of neo-noir black comedy, action thriller, and Vegas gambling flick, all centered around the enigmatic Nick Wild — a hard-hitting heavy, randy raconteur, and, of course, retired SAS super-soldier.