Mechanic, The (2011)

March 31, 2011 By Mike B
Movie Review

What Worked?

Giving us another alternate term for assassin, the Mechanic has Jason Statham kicking ass once again as a hit-man, but this time he’s grounded in a more realistic setting with a co-star that improves the film through his acting, and even infects Statham with some initiative to lose his stone-cold stare at times. Simon West directs this by-the-books action flick, and it’s solid in the brawn department.

Although I can’t say too much about the editing with the golden orange tint and cliché slow motion shots, the action is surprisingly gritty. We can see the movements, as the camera soaks up the action from various wide angles, and avoids utilizing the Bourne shaky-cam. As expected from a Statham film, the fights and gun-play are hard-hitting, but this time around the quality is elevated to feel more gritty and relentless. The “hits” are interesting because they are more realistic, as they are made to look like accidents.

Statham plays Arthur Bishop, a highly detail-oriented assassin that is the sharpest tool in the shed, until he is forced to kill his mentor, Harry, played well by Donald Sutherland.  This burden of moral complexity hangs over Arthur’s head throughout the film, and gives Statham a tad more to do than be brooding and slick. Arthur ends up training Harry’s son, Steven, played intensely by Ben Foster. Foster is the gem of this standard action flick, as he plays Steven with a tormented confusion and need for vengeance that comes off rather naturally. Foster even flexes his acting skills by having to play Steven pretending to be a homosexual to lure in a target, leading to probably the best fight scene of the flick. Foster out-acts everyone with his role as the soul-tortured Steven, and lifts the film from being completely standard.

Overall, the Mechanic offers legitimate action sequences, and a fine performance from the talented Ben Foster. The “hits” feel more authentic than the norm, and aren’t completely dipped in Hollywood glamor, making for interesting and intense action. Statham and Foster fans will enjoy this film more than others, while “others” may take it in as a serviceable revenge dish to hold them over until something better comes along.

Potential Drawbacks:

The story itself has been done to death, and nothing is tweaked to make it feel new. Hit-man films are done every few years or so, and this one is getting thrown in the “nice try” section. The ending also feels a bit clean, and went in a direction that didn’t go along that well with the whole vengeance card they were playing.

The editing is a bit shoddy, and doesn’t add to the grittiness of the action sequences. In addition, the CGI-blood may be atrocious to some.  At times, even the music choice for certain scenes is questionable or wholly out of place.

Overall, what’s going against this film is that has too many cliché moves and no attempt to re-invent anything. On the other hand, maybe that’s what they were going for.

Film Recommendations:

Leon: the Professional
The Transporter

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