Jason Statham is one of Hollywood’s most popular action stars, with a notable presence in franchises like The Expendables, The Fast Saga, The Transporter films, and more. Many of Statham’s films have been middle-of-the-road action flicks, but a few have dipped well below average. One such film is John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars, a B-movie so bad it cannot be found on any free or subscription streamers but must instead be rented.
Ghosts of Mars is mostly forgotten, as is Jason Statham’s appearance in the film since it’s not on any streaming service.
2001 was a weird time for pop culture. Ghosts of Mars is exhibit A. Jason Statham stars alongside Natasha Henstridge and Ice Cube in this Weird Western sci-fi/horror mashup that takes audiences to the red planet for an over-the-top campy adventure.
Natasha Henstridge and Jason Statham play Mars police officers sent to transport a dangerous criminal, Ice Cube’s James ‘Desolation’ Williams, from the mining outpost Shining Canyon. The officers discover the place desolated, but not by Ice Cube. The inhabitants of Shining Canyon have been possessed by the ghosts of ancient Martians unleashed from a buried tomb.
From there, the trio have to shoot their way out of Shining Canyon as the army of Martian dead descends on them. If you thought Jason Statham was campy in The Meg, wait ‘til you get a load of this stuff.
Ghosts of Mars was a box office bomb if you can believe it. Part Aliens, part The Mummy, part Carpenter’s own Escape From New York, critics could not wrap their heads around Martian spirits in a shoot ‘em up science fiction horror amalgamation, even if it did feature epic one-liners from Jason Statham and Ice Cube.
Directed by John Carpenter, Ghosts of Mars wasted the talents of Jason Statham and Ice Cube.
John Carpenter derided the criticism, explaining later that he was shocked by people taking the movie seriously. Campy was the goal for Carpenter – just look at the title. He conceded that Ghosts of Mars was not as “in on the joke” as it needed to be. The failure of the film was the last straw for Carpenter, whose burnout stopped him from making movies for almost a decade.
Like several early Jason Statham films, Ghosts of Mars has become a cult classic. The film is not available to stream anywhere for free or on a subscription plan, but it can be rented on most major platforms, such as Apple TV, YouTube, Amazon, Vudu, and the Google Play store.
Jason Statham came out of the gate strong in his early career. His film debut was in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels in 1998. The duo teamed up again for 2000’s Snatch.
After delivering two critically acclaimed works, Jason Statham derailed with the ill-fated drama Turn It Up. He then took a hard left into the opposite ditch with Ghosts of Mars. The movie was received as a failure, but Statham slid from the flop straight into his steady action career.
Over the next few years, Jason Statham was cruising in fun films like The Transporter, The Italian Job, and Crank. Then, in 2007, Statham was wishing he was on Mars again. In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale was released, and it is a top contender for the actor’s worst movie.
Jason Statham has had a very up-and-down career in Hollywood, but for the most part, his films are enjoyable, even if they can be trashy.
Not only is the film a low point for Jason Statham, but many critics call it one of the worst movies ever adapted from a video game. Others included on the list of the 2000s’ very worst films. Interpreted as a cheap Lord of the Rings rip-off, In the Name of the King earned a 4% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes – a full 20 percent less than Ghosts of Mars.
Let that sink in.
Despite a handful of bombs amid the flying bullets of Jason Statham’s career, the actor has managed to carve out a notable place in action movie history. His unique brand of badassery brings grit and charisma to even his silliest roles, of which there are many.
People don’t go to Jason Statham movies for an in-depth examination of the human condition. They go to have fun. If you are a fan of Statham and John Carpenter, you may even find the fun in Ghosts of Mars.
If you have $3.99 burning a hole in your pocket this spooky season, take a trip to Mars with Jason Statham and see what you find. It is cheaper than a Virgin Galactic flight, and though you might regret it, or you might join the zany cultists who love it. Either way, Ghosts of Mars is sure to be a film you will never forget, no matter how hard you try.