The Mechanic is one slick action film from CBS Films with impossible assassinations and ridiculous explosions. As anyone can guess, a movie like this is bound to have more than a few issues – but if taken at face value and with it’s true intentions in mind, it’s a really fun flick that annihilates your January cabin fever.
Just so we’re clear, I’m not going to discuss all the variations between The Mechanic of 1972 (Charles Bronson), and The Mechanic of 2011 (Jason Statham). There are clear differences that set the two movies apart, but the over-all theme remains the same. The 2011 remake pays homage while retaining a sense of identity, providing a modern audience with a modern take on the assassin movie genre.
Bishop (Statham) is a professional assassin who is more than a little lonely. His super-secret Louisiana bayou hideout is posh and very ‘James Bond,’ but it’s completely secluded. You can see his torment over being the best at something that makes him miserable, especially when he visits his favorite leggy, French Quarter hooker with a heart of gold. Harry (Donald Sutherland) is his only friend and his link to the assassination contracting company. When a contract is taken out on Harry, Bishop’s world turns upside down. His hunt for answers and mission for revenge is interrupted when Harry’s screw up son, Steve (Ben Foster), stumbles into his way. Steve is hell bent on getting revenge in all the wrong ways. Bishop takes Steve under his wing (as more of a big brother than a father-figure), and teaches him the tricks of the trade. Where Bishop is cool and and very by-the-books, Steve is a hot mess and makes brash decisions. This unlikely duo takes us on a fun ride as they hunt down those responsible for Harry’s death.
The Mechanic offers us plenty of gunfire and explosions, as well as more than a few ridiculous scenarios. There are more than a few especially dark scenes that director Simon West perfectly aligns with a relief of humor. In fact, this whole movie is really pretty funny. The audience was given a plethora of insane and over the top predicaments that were obviously intended to generate the laughs. Don’t think that this is a slapstick comedy, though. This is a pure action movie that just doesn’t take itself too seriously. The explosions are grand and beautifully shot. The hand-to-hand fighting scenes are well choreographed and don’t have that overly-shaky camera effect to mask the actors’ abilities.
Sutherland shows us just how easy it is for him to be his best in any role. Though he doesn’t get a ton of screen time, every time you see him, he commands your attention. Statham does what Statham does best – blows shit up while sporting a sexy accent and a sexy physique. This is obviously the kind of movie that he’s good at, but it seems like he’s started carving out his niche with a jackhammer. If he’s not careful, he’ll have dug himself in so deep that he can’t get out. I would love to see more movies that offer him some depth; something with less action and more acting. I loved him in Snatch, and thought it really showed us what he can be capable of when there aren’t things blowing up. Jason, give us more of that please. While Statham was steaming up the screen with his sexy, cool, and slightly vulnerable character, Ben Foster proves to us yet again what an amazing actor he is. His character is written as pretty volatile and one-dimensional, but Foster brings much more than that to the table. There is an especially great scene where Steve gets very drunk, and Foster made this into one of my favorite scenes, both from an acting and directorial point of view. When you put Statham and Foster together, they have a surprising chemistry and an infallible ability to make every scene look cool and sexy.
While there are a lot of fun elements in The Mechanic, there are plenty of downfalls too. Though the actors played them to the best of their abilities, the characters are all a little lacking and the plot is fairly shallow and predictable. The ‘bad guy’ can be easily pointed out right from the beginning. The journey to his death is a fun one, but the actual revenge scene is a little disappointing. The very title and first scene are dedicated to showing and telling us what it means to be a ‘mechanic’ – the painstaking preparation and the rules that they must follow. We are told, “Pulling the trigger is easy – the best jobs are the ones no one knows you’re there,” and ” Victory loves preparation,” and yet, little of that carries through to the rest of the movie. West doesn’t show us hardly any preparation for the assassinations throughout the film, nor are we given much in the way of seeing Steve become a lethal assassin. There are a few short montages, and that’s about it. Usually the audience is plunked right down into the middle of a tense and stealthy mission and told by West, “Believe.”
The Mechanic is just what it appears to be, and doesn’t claim to be anything more. There’s 92 minutes of humor, action, suspicion, and plenty of explosions – all overseen by a fierce twosome. Don’t come expecting an award winning drama, or a twisty Shyamalan ending. This film is just your wake up call from a long, lazy winter.
I give The Mechanic 3.5 “Tepees” out of 5.