This review is for entertainment purposes only.
Remember – if it bleeds, we can kill it. Or have sex with it. I can’t quite remember…maybe it’s both. In that order.
Jason Statham is one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors, having done everything from comedy to drama to action to suspense. His range is that of a Gary Oldman or Daniel Day-Lewis. His eyes alone convey so many different emotions it’s easy to see why he’s garnered so many awards… I’m kidding, of course. Pretty much all this guy does is in movies is kick someone’s ass and that trend continues in The Mechanic, a remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson classic. Was the original a classic? Ya, I guess so. I don’t know, I’m winging it over here.
The Mechanic is the story of somehow-always-buff Jason Statham as Arthur Bishop, a loner who takes assignments from his mentor, Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland). When Harry is killed, by means I do not wish to discuss with you dear reader, Arthur finds himself mentoring Harry’s son Steve (Ben Foster) who has the skills for the trade, but not necessarily the temperament. When the organization tries to take Arthur out, he and Ben go after them instead. (Goddamn, that makes me wanna see the movie again just from reading that exciting synopsis that I wrote. I should work in publicity for a studio. What the hell am I doing this Mickey Mouse review stuff for? What was I talking about again?)
Directed by Simon West, who did Con Air, Tomb Raider and some other crap nobody will ever remember, The Mechanic is a mighty fine remake. That’s right, the dude who directed When a Stranger Calls actually decided to make another decent flick. And he’s able to do that from the tight script written by Richard Wenk. They even managed to locate and dust the cobwebs off Lewis John Carlino who actually wrote the original Mechanic back in the day to co-write the screenplay.
Trimming the fat, this remake doesn’t take a whole hour to get going like the original did. Things happen quickly and Steve and Arthur’s relationship is formed at around 30 minutes in. While I appreciate the slow burn of the original, today’s audiences have the attention span of coked up second graders let loose at a Chuck E. Cheese so most will be happy to see things get going sooner rather than later. What I wish they did do was give Steve a little bit more backstory than what was given, but then I realized I actually don’t care about his backstory making this entire sentence completely worthless, which fits in with the rest of my sentences. And I’m not going back to delete it either. I don’t live in the past like some of you guys.
I do want to talk more about the screenplay, because for some odd reason that’s supposed to be important when I do reviews for this website. The Mechanic doesn’t try and bog itself down with too much exposition though we really didn’t need so much comic book talk from our villain explaining why he’s doing what he’s doing. But like I said earlier, today’s moviegoer is kind of slow. (They probably don’t even know how Inception ended. I know, but I’m not telling. Not my fault you’re stupid.) Statham’s Arthur is as cold and silent as Bronson’s was. Nice touches such as the classical music, and a dossier on the next victim being pinned to a concealed wall are a cool nod to the original. Arthur even has a woman who clearly digs him but he’s only there for some stress relief. Though I’m a fan of sex scenes, the two shown here weren’t necessary and could have been cut from the film. They were poorly done anyway. Alright, truth be told, I haven’t had sex in a while and I don’t wanna see other people having sex, even if it’s fake movie sex. Just let me live in my empty tissue box filled little world, ok? It’s tough writing a review with one hand as you’re choking back tears.
Arthur soon realizes he training a walking powder keg. A kid who doesn’t believe in completing his assignments the simplest way possible, which is to take out your target without anyone knowing you were ever there. No, his first assignment, which is to poison a gay 6’7″ 300+ pound assassin who works for another organization, goes bad when Steve decides to forget the poison and just try to choke him to death with a belt. Ever try and choke a 300-pound gay dude? It’s impossible. It’s like trying to lasso and ride a dolphin. (Which is just one of my many fantasies.) The fight scene between Steve and the gayssassin is just one of many brutally violent scenes in the film. And the editors did a wonderful job in putting together action scenes that are fast, intense, yet easy to follow. From the hit in Colombia at the beginning of the film to the action-packed car chase scene at the end, you’re rarely bored. And the camera work by cinematographer Eric Schmidt was really well done. Kudos, sir.
The Mechanic wraps things up the way the original did, only our two boys don’t get to hang out in Italy. Instead, they get to destroy some studio’s backlot. Eh, so be it. It’s still fun to watch and there are a couple of “Oh, damn!” moments that will surprise you. If you’ve seen the original the twist at the end is a bit different, which I know had to have been done because of today’s studio mentality when it comes to possible sequels. Still, it manages to satisfy those who like remakes that don’t stray too far in spirit from their original source material.
Statham did a great job, which isn’t surprising considering he’s played this same role about 50 times already. Ben Foster is a wonderful actor but playing such a cold character the way he played it you don’t really connect with the dude, but he does manage to shine in quite a few scenes. Donald Sutherland is at that point in his career where he does whatever movie is handed to him just so he can get out of the house. And Tony Goldwyn was perfect in his role as the “default main bad guy.” C’mon Tony, call up Christian and get that Kuffs sequel going! I know you wanna do it!
I was pleasantly surprised by The Mechanic. A well-crafted, engaging, balls-to-the-wall action film that gets in, gets the job done, and gets out with no apologies or remorse. There is one minor thing that bothered me, though. For all the planning and attention to detail required to complete each assignment, I really wish our guys wore some goddamn gloves because every place they went they left behind a fingerprint factory for the cops to find. And you don’t want your boss calling to tell you the local CSI slam-dunked this bitch before lunch.
The Mechanic is currently in theaters now.