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Jason Statham in ‘The Mechanic’ is a Mindless Repeat of All Prior Gun-Toting Slayers

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Average: 2.8 (5 votes)
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – It wouldn’t be a Jason Statham film if in it he was just fixing cars. In “The Mechanic,” his profession is fixing people. And by fixing, like “The Transporter” he’s again cracking skulls.

But if you’re going to ask audiences to buy into a remake of the 1972 film by the same name with Charles Bronson originating Jason Statham’s role as Arthur Bishop, a film needs to make it less obvious that it’s just modernizing a 1970s flick for the purposes of making new money on a preexisting script.

Mini Anden in The Mechanic
Mini Anden in “The Mechanic”.
Image credit: CBS Films

While “The Mechanic” takes a page from all other hitman movies and employs every trick in the contract killer book we’ve already seen, the one redeeming difference is Statham’s inner dialogue and his cool, calculated demeanor. Sure, this Jason Statham is again a killer with no back story, but this time he’s also a master of restraint, an expert in preparation and ultimately a deadly executioner.

That said, he’s again narrowly doing the one thing he does somewhat well and nothing more. Every hitman movie falls into the same trap. The problem with someone who offs people for a living – no matter how Jason Bourne badass you think you are – is that someone who’s smarter, faster, richer or just plain in the right place at the right time will eventually get ‘cha, too.

And then every hitman film continues being snared in this trap by building a film around one hero who (for no reason at all) is unrealistically granted an invincible shield that allows him to dodge all bullets, avert all car crashes and sexify the token hot chick at any given whim. In “The Mechanic,” Jason Statham has none of these exceptions. We are even to interpret his paying-a-prostitute time with Mini Anden as the film’s “love story” considering he decides to tell her his real name and she names an animal after him. Cute.

Jason Statham in The Mechanic
Jason Statham in “The Mechanic”.
Image credit: CBS Films

He also throws in the “blow something up and walk away like a cool cat” thing just to remind you that he’s firing at you every quiver in his satchel of everything you’d expect. In fact, “Everything You’d Expect” would be a fitting and at least very honest title for this film.

Despite all his high-octane and high-risk assignments, the only imperfection Statham receives is the crow’s feet on his face. That’s because, of course, his invincible shield protects him from all the rest of the body-razing annihilation that his person should have endured.

On the surface of things, “The Mechanic” delivers the immediate-gratification basics of what you’d expect in a popcorn action flick. We have heads rolling, bodies splattering, things moving fast and stuff blowing up. One porn-like sex scene is thrown in to give the unknown Swedish starlet Mini Anden a job as well as to drive the point home that Jason Statham is the shit.

Ben Foster (left) and Jason Statham in The Mechanic
Ben Foster (left) and Jason Statham in “The Mechanic”.
Image credit: CBS Films

So much so, in fact, that Statham can shoot a man point blank who’s in a wheelchair. A man who’s gazing into his eyes. A man who’s his friend.

Now where “The Mechanic” gets relatively interesting is the introduction of that man’s son (played by Ben Foster). Foster, who’s brilliantly crazed in 2009’s Oscar-nominated “The Messenger” opposite Woody Harrelson, returns in another distraught role in “The Mechanic” for director Simon West (“Con Air,” “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” “The General’s Daughter”).

Foster’s character is bored. He needs warm fuzzies to make him feel alive. Attracted to Jason Statham’s contract-killing prowess, Foster decides to be Statham’s Jedi in training. Despite recently killing someone near and dear to Foster, Statham reluctantly agrees to create a protégé.

Ben Foster in The Mechanic
Ben Foster in “The Mechanic”.
Image credit: CBS Films

But bold choices are absent from this film. Instead, it sticks with the action formulas that work and delivers the stereotypes you’d expect. This poorly written revenge film from Richard Wenk and Lewis John Carlino lacks heart and fails to make you care. The only emotionally effective scene in the film comes at the hand of veteran actor Donald Sutherland as his discusses his last moments alive.

How about Jason Statham in a film where he doesn’t have a gun? (“V for Vendetta” proves that knives are sexy and “Ninja Assasin” demonstrates that swords are ambrosial, too.) Why can’t Statham have a heart and rear that Chihuahua instead of assigning the odd task (and the only comedy in the film) to Ben Foster? Moreover, why can’t Statham actually die for once? He could have even faked his death at the end of the first film so the filmmakers could trick us in the sequel with a just-kidding bring back.

Jason Statham in The Mechanic
Jason Statham in “The Mechanic”.
Image credit: CBS Films

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StarMore reviews from Adam Fendelman.

“The Mechanic” is mindless pandemonium with no point and a complete failure to make you emotionally care about any of the characters. The film only succeeds at being one thing: mindless pandemonium.

For some, this January popcorn flick that’ll disappear in the sea of other forgotten films might just be enough if you’re wanting to spend a short 92 minutes merely not thinking about the bills you have to pay or that pesky garage you need to get oiled up.

“The Mechanic” stars Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland, Tony Goldwyn, Mini Anden, Jeff Chase, James Logan, Eddie J. Fernandez, Joshua Bridgewater, John McConnell, Christa Campbell, Joel Davis, Mark Nutter, A. Brent Carlson and Lara Grice from director Simon West and writers Richard Wenk and Lewis John Carlino. The film is rated “R” for strong brutal violence throughout, language, some sexual content and nudity. “The Mechanic,” which has a running time of 92 minutes, opened everywhere on Jan. 28, 2011 from CBS Films on a $40 million budget.

HollywoodChicago.com publisher Adam Fendelman

By ADAM FENDELMAN
Publisher
HollywoodChicago.com
adam@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2011 Adam Fendelman, HollywoodChicago.com LLC

G.Louis's picture

Liked your review...

I think you articulated well, and in a quite balanced and well-reasoned way, your valid contempt for this useless garbage. Loved the cool cat walking away from an explosion cliche. Even the crappy Oscar-winning “No country for old men” had it (This, BTW, has got to be the most overrated movie of all times)… Thanks for saving me even renting this new wrinkle on the same crap. G.

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