Best David Ayer Movies to Watch After The Beekeeper
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Best David Ayer Movies to Watch After The Beekeeper

David Ayer’s The Beekeeper hits theaters this weekend, so it’s time for us to rank his movies in case you want more of his style after his latest feature. First, some background: Ayer is the mastermind behind one of my all-time favorite flicks, Training Day, starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. He wrote the screenplay while Antoine Fuqua directed, leading to Washington’s greatest performance.

Ayer loves to create gritty crime dramas teaming with flawed characters stuck in precarious situations. I enjoy most of his stuff and plan to venture out to see The Beekeeper on his name alone. So, there you have it. This list comprises films Ayer directed, so I can’t spend four paragraphs gushing over Training Day. Regardless, he has several fun flicks that are worth checking out. Read on to check out the best David Ayer movies.

End of Watch (2012)

My favorite Ayer-directed pic remains 2012’s End of Watch, which follows a pair of LAPD officers, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, during a particularly brutal stretch on the job. Authentic performances, compelling storytelling, and innovative filmmaking techniques result in a raw, gripping thriller that combines gripping action with genuine human connections. The film also addresses social issues, offering a nuanced reflection on the complexities of policing in high-crime areas. It’s great stuff, but it’s very hard to watch.

The Tax Collector (2020)

Gritty, violent, and a little clunky but boasting an outstanding performance from Shia LaBeouf, The Tax Collector contains the type of visceral bloody action Ayer adores. The pic immerses viewers in the dangerous and complex world of organized crime in Los Angeles, following two complex individuals (LaBeouf and Bobby Soto) as they navigate the treacherous criminal underworld. Fans of Ayer’s previous work and those who appreciate intense, character-driven stories will find this film a worthy addition to the genre.

Bright (2017)

Bright deserves kudos for playing its absurd fantasy premise 100% straight. While the results aren’t always glamorous, there’s much to admire in this urban fantasy crime drama set in an alternate reality where magical creatures coexist with humans in modern-day Los Angeles. The story follows two LAPD officers, played by Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, who form an unlikely alliance—one is a human, and the other is an orc—in their quest to keep a magical wand out of the wrong hands. Yeah, it’s bonkers but also fun in that Dark Crystal/Labyrinth sort of way. I’d love a sequel.

Fury (2014)

Brad Pitt stands tall in this exploration of a tight-knit tank crew during WWII. Brutal, effective, and superbly acted, Fury features riveting action sequences and compelling human drama and offers a realistic portrayal of the physical and emotional toll combat takes on the soldiers. Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña, and Jon Bernthal provide terrific support, while Ayer delivers a heavy dose of masterfully choreographed tank sequences that keep viewers on the edge of their seats. The last act is equally thrilling and heartbreaking.

Suicide Squad (2016)

Ok, hear me out: Suicide Squad is a mess, but that’s not entirely Ayer’s fault. Studio meddling resulted in a lackluster follow-up to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice that tried too hard to emulate the success of Guardians of the Galaxy right down to that giant blue beam in the sky. We may never see Ayer’s original cut, but I’ll give the man the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s not lying when he claims his version is miles better than the theatrical version. The funniest part is how Warner Bros. was shocked that Ayer—a writer/director who revels in violent thrillers—made a violent thriller starring DC villains.

The casting is on point. Margot Robbie is perfect as Harley Quinn, Will Smith delivers a solid performance as Deadshot, and Viola Davis makes a formidable Amanda Waller. I need to see more of Jared Leto’s Joker to judge his take correctly, but I like what little I saw. Hopefully, the Ayer Cut will come to fruition one day. Until the complete version is released, Suicide Squad will forever remain a huge missed opportunity.

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