2 February 2011

Movie Review: The Mechanic (2011)


The Mechanic
2011, 93mins, 15
Director: Simon West
Writer (s): Richard Wenk, Lewis John Carlino
Cast includes: Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland, Tony Goldwyn, Jeff Chase
UK Release Date: 28th January 2011

A remake of a 1972 thriller I’ve personally never seen, “The Mechanic” is a watchable but completely unmemorable endeavour. Subbing Jason Statham into a role once occupied by Charles Bronson feels apt, but the film’s screenplay packs no surprises, bundling its growling lead from one predictable plot twist to another. Having a competent genre director like Simon West (1997’s eternally wonderful “Con Air”) at the helm helps, but it’s still not enough to render “The Mechanic” anything more than the passable January fodder it so blatantly is.

Arthur (Jason Statham) is a meticulous hitman, one of the most thorough and efficient in the business. Arthur is thrown into disarray when his boss (Tony Goldwyn) orders him to assassinate a loyal friend, in this case Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland). After reluctantly completing the mission, Arthur soon finds himself in the company of McKenna’s troubled son Steve (Ben Foster), a young man keen to learn the art of killing in order to respect the memory of his deceased father. Arthur agrees to train Steve, but soon both men find themselves at war with Arthur’s corrupt employers, violence promptly ensuing.

Jason Statham is Jason Statham in “The Mechanic”. The actor brings his usual rugged intensity to the role of Arthur, granting the picture a performance more interested in physicality and smirks than anything resembling an emotional core. He’s more than adequate during the explosion heavy set-pieces, but struggles when the script requires him to do anything more. It’s hard to buy any sense of regret or remorse concerning the character’s dubious career path from Statham’s turn, instead the plotting is relied upon to heavy handily imply such inner turmoil. Foster isn’t as dapper when it comes to stunt work, but he acts Statham off the screen during the film’s quieter and more considerate moments. They make for an acceptably odd couple, rattling around the movie with at least a semi-interesting dynamic. Tony Goldwyn is proficient but unspectacular as Arthur’s shadowy boss, whilst Donald Sutherland isn’t around nearly long enough to register.

Simon West continues to showcase a solid understanding of action, the “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” director juggling the fistfights and shootouts well. There’s nothing particularly fresh on display, but West keeps the energy high and his camera composed, resulting in a batch of comprehensible and modestly enjoyable instances of firearm obsessed bombast. There are sequences in which the editing choices grate (several gratuitously kinetic sex scenes), but on the whole it’s an aesthetically robust outing. “The Mechanic” is a sharp looking motion picture; stylistically it’s nicely arranged, with a glossy layer of attractive cinematography to coat the mayhem.

The screenplay is generic fluff, although “The Mechanic” does have the decency to offer at least one shock come its frenzied climax. Arthur’s guilt concerning the murder of Steve’s father only really comes to prominence at the end, the writers failing to dabble with this aspect during the movie’s opening acts. For fans of Statham it’s a cut below “Crank”, but better than the likes of “Death Race” and “The Transporter”. If you can assemble some beers and a pizza it might make for an agreeable Friday night rental, but otherwise I’d just be inclined to give it a miss.

A Review by Daniel Kelly, 2011


Post a Comment