Director: Simon West
Cast: Jason Statham,
Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland, Jeff Chase, Christa Campbell,
Liam Ferguson, J.D. Evermore, Tony Goldwyn, Mini Anden
RunTime: 1 hr 33 mins
Released By: GV & MVP
Rating: M18 (Violence & Sexual Scenes)
Official Website: http://www.themechanicmovie.com/
Opening Day: 17 February 2011
Synopsis: Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) is
a 'mechanic' - an elite assassin with a strict code and unique
talent for cleanly eliminating targets. It's a job that requires
professional perfection and total detachment, and Bishop is
the best in the business. But when his mentor and close friend
Harry (Donald Sutherland) is murdered, Bishop is anything
but detached. His next assignment is self-imposed - he wants
those responsible dead.
mission grows complicated when Harry's son Steve (Ben Foster)
approaches him with the same vengeful goal and a determination
to learn Bishop's trade. Bishop has always acted alone but
he can't turn his back on Harry's son. A methodical hit man
takes an impulsive student deep into his world and a deadly
partnership is born. But while in pursuit of their ultimate
mark, deceptions threaten to surface and those hired to fix
problems become problems themselves.
There was a good reason why Sylvester Stallone picked Jason Statham to join him in last summer’s “The Expendables”- the 43-year-old British actor is without a doubt a bona fide action star and quite possibly this generation’s most suitable heir to the brawny action heroes of the 80s like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sleek, buff and cool, Statham was easily the best thing about the Crank and Transporter series- and so too is he in his latest film “The Mechanic”.
Further validating his old-school action hero credentials, Statham takes over a role first played by Charles Bronson in the 1972 original as the ruthless, methodical and efficient hit man extraordinaire Arthur Bishop. Arthur gets his assignments from his former mentor Harry (Donald Sutherland) and his modus operandi is to make his killings look like an accident- not unlike Louis Koo in the much more elegant thriller “Accident”. In stereotypical fashion, Arthur lives in solitude, possesses a touch of class a la his love for vinyl, and has little need of female companionship (except the occasional sex).
After Arthur executes his boss’ (Tony Goldwyn) order to assassinate Harry, he develops a twinge of conscience and reluctantly takes Harry’s wayward son Steve (Ben Foster) on as his protégé, partly too in order to save Steve from his own self-destructive ways. Like the original, the emphasis of this remake is also on the relationship between Arthur and Steve, the latter unaware of the former’s role in his father’s death. Of course, this only sets the stage for an eventual revenge plot once Steve discovers the truth, though not before- as you would expect- the two collaborate to take on Arthur’s boss.
The fact that the unlikely pairing turns out the most interesting aspect of the film as intended is testament to the chemistry between Statham and Foster. Back in his loopy “3:10 to Yuma” mode (where viewers may recall he stole the show from Russell Crowe and Christian Bale), Foster plays the volatile and unpredictable Steve with a mercurial glee. Statham and Foster complement each other very well- the precise calculated hitman vis-à-vis his hot-headed, reckless partner cum disciple- and their scenes crackle with tension.
It’s a good thing that Statham and Foster are so captivating in their respective roles and next to each other, because the script by Richard Wenk and Lewis John Carlino (who also wrote the 1972 original) is as clunky as that of typical B-grade action movies. There’s not much of a twist when the corporate double cross is revealed, and worst of all, its motive remains distinctly unclear. Neither does the script do justice to its characters, which therefore strains credulity when we are supposed to believe that Arthur would put up with Steve’s sloppiness time and time again.
Simon West’s (better known for “Con Air”) direction is also less inspired than serviceable, even when it comes to the action. Steve’s maiden kill turns out to be an intense and hyperviolent mano-a-mano fight between the dimunitive Foster and a 300-pound six-foot fellow assassin- but aside from that heart-pounding sequence, the rest of the action is unfortunately none too interesting and over far too quickly. West also goes for too many scattershot close-ups and cuts, which doesn’t do justice to Statham’s hand-to-hand fistfights especially given the man’s natural physicality.
If “The Mechanic” still remains entertaining, it is entirely because Statham is such an engaging presence onscreen. He has that natural build for an old-school action hero, he does deadpan humour beautifully and his fighting skills are top-notch. It’s a pity then that most of his films don’t quite live up to his potential- this one included- and despite the inclusion of the equally compulsively watchable Foster, it still falters under the weight of an unwieldy story and ineffectual direction. Even if you’re just looking for a quick action fix, it’s not likely you’ll find that this “Mechanic” offers much.
(Even with bona fide action star Jason Statham and the quirkily loopy Ben Foster, there is not much this poorly-scripted, ineffectually-directed movie offers by way of an action fix)
Review by Gabriel Chong