By Derek Lawrence
May 05, 2021 at 10:45 AM EDT
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After spending the last few years battling a very fast family, Black Superman, and a 75-foot shark in splashy, big-budget movies, Jason Statham is excited to get back in touch with his more humble beginnings.

Twenty-three years ago, Statham made his acting debut in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, a British crime comedy from rookie director Guy Ritchie. They'd make their next film together too, 2000's Snatch, before reuniting a third time with 2005's Revolver. In the years since, they've stayed friends but branched out separately in big — and blockbuster — ways. Statham has transformed into one of Hollywood's go-to action stars and a franchise machine (The Transporter, The Expendables, Fast & Furious), while Ritchie found his own IP success with Sherlock Holmes and Aladdin. But they're now finally back together and returning to their roots with the action thriller Wrath of Man (in theaters Friday).

"This particular genre is a favorite of mine," Statham tells EW. "I love heist movies, I love revenge movies. Guy said he's got a great one up his sleeve, and it took about 30 seconds to convince me."

REVOLVER
Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham filming 'Revolver'
| Credit: Everett Collection

Statham, 53, says at this stage of his career all he looks for in projects is a director "who knows what they're doing," mentioning both Ritchie and Paul Feig. ("I wanted to do another Spy movie," he reveals of his killer 2015 comedy with Feig and Melissa McCarthy.)

"It's a very organic kind of way to go to work with what Guy does," Statham says. "He wants to change things on a daily basis, so you should look at what the story is but never get too attached with what the dialogue of the day is, because it's very much an evolving, moving type of thing. So you just turn up with an open mind and you'll succeed."

While Statham dismisses any direct comparisons between Wrath of Man and Lock, Stock or Snatch, he believes Ritchie is a singular voice in their shared-genre because "he can get tone perfectly." He adds, "To come and do a movie like this just felt very contained and very much like a family feel; it reminded me of the old ones. Initially, on the surface, it doesn't really feel like a Guy Ritchie movie. Once you start to watch it, you recognize that the style and the way that he can capture the emotion without really getting the actors to say much is a really key component to what he does well. He's so visual, and he really knows how to put sound and score together. You just trust him."

Wrath of Man, based on the 2004 film Cash Truck, stars Statham as H, a cold and mysterious stranger hired by a Los Angeles company responsible for moving hundreds of millions of dollars a week. What his new co-workers don't know is that he's on the hunt for his son's murderers.

"It's a much darker journey for H than some of the other stuff that I've done," Statham says. "There's always stakes, but the stakes this time are much deeper, on a very visceral level. So this is a personal one."

"H" is the latest in a long line of character names that it feels like only Statham could pull off, joining Chev Chelios, Lee Christmas, Handsome Rob, and Deckard Shaw. "I don't come up with these names, but I do quite enjoy that they're not the run-of-the-mill," the actor says with a laugh. "Somehow they become memorable. If the character's a great character, you get to justify the quirky name."

Wrath of Man
Cameron Jack, Darrell D'Silva, Jason Statham, and Babs Olusanmokun in 'Wrath of Man'
| Credit: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures

Next up for Statham in the name department is another banger: Orson Fortune. That character will be at the center of another Statham-Ritchie collaboration, the upcoming Five Eyes. "We are in the trenches more than we ever realized we would be," Statham says of getting the band back together again. "He's going to be sick of me now. I think we might have to have a hiatus, and he can make a couple f---ing movies without me."

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