MECHANIC: RESURRECTION (2016) – Pointless Sequel Even for Jason Statham Fans

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mechanic-resurrection-poster

If you’re a Jason Statham fan, you might like this movie.

Then again, you might not.

MECHANIC:  RESURRECTION (2016) is a sequel to THE MECHANIC (2011), a halfway decent action movie which starred Jason Statham and Ben Foster.  Statham is back for the sequel, while Foster is not.

Let’s not mince words:  MECHANIC: RESURRECTION is a terrible movie.

It has little to offer other than some picturesque location photography and the obligatory Jason Statham fight scenes.  That’s really what this sequel is all about.  It’s just an excuse to film Statham beating on bad guys.  The most frustrating part of the whole thing is you don’t have to be Shakespeare to come up with a decent action movie plot.  The story to this one is lame and laughable .

Unstoppable assassin Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) is living the good life.  He’s hiding out in Rio de Janeiro, and life is good, mostly because he’s “retired” since everyone believes he’s dead.  When the movie opens, his free ride comes to a close when a woman approaches him with a job, and she tells Bishop that if he declines her boss’ offer, that they will broadcast to the world that he is still alive.  I guess she hasn’t seen too many Jason Statham movies.  You should never threaten the guy.

Bishop goes ballistic, and in one of the film’s better action sequences— not a good sign when the film’s best action sequence occurs before the opening credits— singlehandedly wipes out about 30 henchmen, in a rather cool scene which culminates on top of a frighteningly high cable car.  This opening scene is very James Bond like.  So the film gets off to a strong start.  But it’s all downhill from there.

Bishop learns that the man who wants to hire him is his former friend Crain (Sam Hazeldine) who now happens to be his mortal enemy.  I guess they stopped sending each other Christmas cards.  When Crain’s next contact comes along, a woman named Gina (Jessica Alba), Bishop turns the tables on her and forces her to tell him her story, a sob story that is about as believable a plot in a bad Lifetime movie.  It turns out Gina works with underpriviliged children, and Crain threatened to kill the kids.  Jeesh!  You can’t get much lower than that.  Where’s Crain’s black hat and mustache?

Bishop promises to bring Gina to safety and stresses that he will never work for Crain, but in the very next scene, Crain’s men overpower Bishop and abduct Gina, and the next thing we know, Bishop is working for Crain.  Of course, he’s doing it to protect Gina’s life.  What a guy!

Crain wants Bishop to kill three men, and every time Bishop succeeds, Crain promises to let Bishop speak with Gina so he’ll know that she is still alive.  Bishop’s special talent is that he makes his hits look like accidents, and so he goes about killing these targets—who are supposedly protected by the best security on the planet— while making their deaths look like accidents.

When Bishop gets to the third man, Max Adams (Tommy Lee Jones) he decides to offer him a deal in order to turn the tables on Crain, seemingly for no other reason than the guy is being played by Tommy Lee Jones.  Bishop’s plan would have worked just as easily with Adams dead.

The plot to MECHANIC: RESURRECTION nearly put me to sleep.  It was farfetched and convoluted  throughout.

While I remain a Jason Statham fan, mostly because he looks the parts he plays and is believable as an unstoppable assassin, MECHANIC:  RESURRECTION is one of the weaker films I’ve seen him in.

Jessica Alba, who I usually like a lot, wasn’t convincing here at all. I never believed Gina was a real person.  It’s probably the weakest Alba performance I’ve seen yet.

Likewise, Sam Hazeldine as Crain made for a pretty boring villain.  It didn’t help that every time he opened his mouth a cliche came out.

And Tommy Lee Jones looked like he was having a blast during his one hour shoot.  Yup, it looks like Jones strolled onto the set for about an hour, delivered his lines, and left.  He has very little impact on this movie.

The worst part of MECHANIC:  RESURRECTION is the writing.  The screenplay by Philip Shelby and Tony Mosher tells a simpleminded story that is as dull as it is unimaginative.  It also contains cliche-ridden dialogue throughout.

Director Dennis Gansel fares slightly better.  The pre-credit sequence is a good one, and there’s lots of picturesque photography of several exotic settings, including Rio and Thailand.  But the bulk of the action scenes don’t hold up, and Bishop’s “accidental” murders aren’t as creative as the ones in the first movie.

The first movie THE MECHANIC (2011) was also a better movie because it had strong source material, as it was a remake of a 1972 Charles Bronson movie of the same name.

This sequel MECHANIC:  RESURRECTION is as lame as can be.  It’s for hardcore Jason Statham fans only.  Then again, I’m a big Jason Stathan fan myself, and I didn’t like this one at all.

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CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT: THE EXPENDABLES 3 (2014)

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expendables 3 posterHere’s my CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT review of THE EXPENDABLES 3, up now at cinemaknifefight.com, your place to read about movies, where you’ll find new movie content posted every day by L.L. Soares, myself, and a very talented staff of writers.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

 

 CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT:  THE EXPENDABLES 3 (2014)

Review by Michael Arruda

(THE SCENE: A heavily fortified movie theater, surrounded by armed guards, military vehicles, and tanks.  A helicopter lands out front, and MICHAEL ARRUDA steps from the copter followed by four young people, most likely in their twenties.  They approach the theater just as a man dressed in military fatigues steps from the building to confront them.)

DICTATOR:  Hey, Arruda, it’s about time you showed up.  But you’re a little late.  Your buddy L.L. SOARES is our prisoner.

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  You can have him.  I didn’t come for L.L. I came to see a movie.

DICTATOR: So did he, and look where that got him!  You’ll never get by me, Arruda!

MA:  We’ll see about that.  I’ve brought some help.

DICTATOR (looks at the young people behind MA):  Who are they?  Your kindergarten class?

MA:  Meet the new team.  The next generation of Cinema Knife Fighters.

(Camera pans quickly over the four young faces, just as a missile zooms in and explodes, reducing them to a puff of smoke.)

MA:  Or not.

You know, if the new team in today’s movie had met the same fate, I would have liked it better.

DICTATOR:  Huh?  Listen, Arruda, enough talking!  Take a look around you, at our defenses.  They’re impenetrable.

MA:  Really?  Because I have looked them over, and frankly, I’m not impressed.  In fact, I give your defenses 0 knives.

DICTATOR (huffs):  Really?  Are you kidding me?  Do you know how hard I worked on this?

MA:  It’s obviously all CGI.  Very fake looking.  Nobody you have with you has anything worthwhile to say.  Sorry, but it’s all very boring.

DICTATOR:  Dammit!  I need to find me a better writer!

MA:  And L.L. obviously made it inside, too, didn’t he?  Where is he?

DICTATOR:  He’s inside watching another movie. Damn you guys!  (Stomps off in a hissy fit.)

MA:  Okay, now that that’s over with, we can get on with today’s review.  Welcome to CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT.  I’m Michael Arruda, and today I’m reviewing THE EXPENDABLES 3, the latest movie in Sylvester Stallone’s all-star action series.  I’m doing this one solo because my buddy L.L. Soares is inside this theater watching another movie which he’ll be reviewing for CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT this weekend as well.

THE EXPENDABLES 3 is the third film in THE EXPENDABLES series, a series which chronicles the adventures of The Expendables, a group of ruthless soldiers and assassins who are called on by the U.S. government to handle its dirtiest jobs.

In this film, the leader of the group Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) discovers that his one-time friend-turned villain Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), a man he thought he had killed, is still alive.  Ross wants Stonebanks dead, but he’s informed by his new operator Drummer (Harrison Ford) that they want Stonebanks alive to stand trial.

Seeing Stonebanks as a formidable opponent, Ross decides that his team is too old to handle him, and so he tells his team, which includes Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Doc (Wesley Snipes), Gunner (Dolph Lundgren) and Toll Road (Randy Couture) that he’s retiring the group.  They balk at this of course, but Ross makes his intentions clear:  they’re done.

Ross then hooks up with an old friend Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer) who he employs to help him find a new team, a group of younger fighters, in effect the next generation of The Expendables.  And so they compile a group of newbies which includes Thorn (Glen Powell), Mars (Victor Ortiz), Luna (Ronda Rousey), and Smilee (Kellan Lutz).

Seriously?  I found this plot point very difficult to believe.  Why in the world would Ross want to go to battle with these infants instead of Jason Statham and friends is beyond me?  There’s just no comparison, and calling these guys “old” based upon the way they look in the movie is ridiculous.  They still look as bad-ass as ever.

Anyway, Stonebanks quickly makes mincemeat out of this diaper-clad team, which means it’s up to Jason Statham and his buddies to help Stallone get his newbies out of this mess.  Of course, Stonebanks has an entire army at his disposal, and so even more help is needed, which is why Drummer also brings in Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Yin Yang (Jet Li) to help out.

Plus there’s Galgo (Antonio Banderas) who throughout the film has been desperate to join Ross’ team, and finally gets his chance when Ross needs all the help he can get.  This all leads to the testosterone filled conclusion where Ross and his Expendables battle Stonebanks and his entire army.

This might have been fun if it all wasn’t so stupid.

(MA enters the lobby of the movie theater, surrounded by all sorts of military action:  machine gun fire, grenade explosions, hand-to- hand combat.)

MA (looks at camera):  I guess it all fits in with the theme of today’s movie.  Excuse me while I order some popcorn.  (To cinema worker).  I’ll have a small popcorn with butter, please.

CINEMA WORKER:  Sure.  (As he turns to make popcorn, machine gun fire riddles the area, and he slumps to the ground.)

MA: Hmm.  I’ll just come back for that later.  Back to the review.

By far, THE EXPENDABLES 3 is the worst film in the series.  I liked the first THE EXPENDABLES (2010) well enough, and I really enjoyed the sequel THE EXPENDABLES 2 (2012) which had a better plot and gave all the veteran action stars quality screen time with good action scenes and some memorable lines, and the climactic battle between Stallone and  Jean-Claude Van Damme was a keeper.  I really felt like I got my money’s worth.

Not so with this installment.

First of all, there’s something very sloppy about the direction.  Director Patrick Hughes gives us a flat opening segment where Stallone and his team rescue Wesley Snipes from his imprisonment on a moving armored train.  The action here is sloppily handled.  The camera fails to get in close and seems to cover things from a distance, and it also cuts away from characters when they’re speaking, and so it was difficult to catch what people were saying.

Then, once the rescue is completed, it cuts to the main title THE EXPENDABLES 3, flashed on the screen for about a millisecond and then it’s back to the movie.  It was just a weird opening, a precursor for all that was going to follow.

Director Hughes also doesn’t give his action stars flashy or memorable first appearances.  Stallone is first seen in the opening segment flying a helicopter in loud surroundings in which you can’t hear what he’s saying.  I don’t think I understood anything Stallone said in this entire segment.  Schwarzenegger’s grand entrance has him casually strolling up behind Stallone in a hospital and speaking softly to him.  How’s that for compelling drama?

The screenplay by Sylvester Stallone, Creighton Rotherberger, and Katrin Benedikt tells a mediocre story that doesn’t always makes sense, and features unimpressive dialogue and very little if any character development.  The story of Ross assembling a new team of youngsters to take on an old enemy makes little sense when his old team is still so menacing.

And while Mel Gibson does make for a decent villain, at least in terms of his performance, the character Gibson plays, Stonebanks, is never shown being villainous.  Why is he such a bad ass?  We hear characters like Ross and Drummer saying what a bad guy he is, but we never see him do anything.  What’s his agenda?  He sells arms to dictators and other undesirables, and we do see him do this in one scene, but do really we need The Expendables to take him out?

Just once, I’d like to see a plot worthy of The Expendables team.  These guys are supposed to be sent in to handle the jobs that the CIA and U.S. military want no part of, yet in all three films, we haven’t really seen them on these kinds of missions.

The dialogue is also subpar.  You’ve got Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Statham, Snipes, and Ford, guys who can really chew up the scenery, and yet there’s hardly a memorable line among them.

(Schwarzenegger enters the lobby and makes quick work of several enemy soldiers, cracking their heads and breaking their limbs with ease.)

SCHWARZENEGGER:  Next time silence your cell phones.  (to MA)  I work part-time as cinema security.  If you make noise in the theater, you answer to me.  (Checks his smart phone.)  Someone is texting in theater three.  I’ll be back.  (Exits)

MA:  That’s the Arnold I wanted to see.

Only Mel Gibson as the villain Stonebanks gets lines worthy of his pedigree, yet he has nothing much to do other than taunt Stallone and his buddies.  In fact, there are several scenes of Stonebanks buying art, walking up a staircase, entering a building, where that’s all he does.  I mean, these scenes don’t lead to anything else.  Stonebanks is a villain with too much time on his hands, and THE EXPENDABLES 3 is an action movie in need of a crisper script and tighter direction.

Now, if you’re like me, you see an EXPENDABLES movie because you want to see Stallone, Statham, Schwarzenegger and their friends on screen kicking butt and churning out one-liners.  You don’t see it because you want to watch a bunch of newbies take over.  I’m sorry, but I didn’t buy a ticket to THE EXPENDABLES:  THE NEXT GENERATON, and so I had little interest in scenes of Stallone compiling his new team, while his old team, Statham and company, sit home with nothing to do, and yes we actually see scenes of these guys at home twiddling their thumbs bored.  We don’t even get to see them try their hands at new jobs— I want to see Dolph Lundgren try to work in a department store, for example.  Realistically speaking, you’d think these guys would sign on with someone else.  I mean, Stallone’s Ross can’t be the only game in town.

And the newbies don’t have a chance. They’re each introduced in quick brief scenes, and then as the film goes on we hardly get to know them, which was fine with me since I didn’t care about them, but you know what?  I might have changed my mind had I actually gotten to know them and had the writing been better.

Sadly, THE EXPENDABLES 3 plays like the third film in a series, old and tired.

Speaking of which, one of the themes running through this movie is that Stallone and his buddies are getting too old for this sort of thing, and the sad part is in this movie some of them did look old.  For the first time in this series, I found it difficult to believe that Stallone and Schwarzenegger could do the things they were doing.  They looked a little long in the tooth.  Harrison Ford looked like he could barely walk.  In the film’s climax Ford is flying a helicopter performing all these stunts.  Yeah, right.  The only stunt he seemed capable of performing was crashing.

I like Sylvester Stallone, and when he’s on screen, I liked him here.  The trouble is the dialogue is so bad, that his character Ross just isn’t that enjoyable this time around.

Of the original team, Jason Statham fares the best, because he still looks the part, like he could single-handedly take out a mob of assassins, but his screen time is diminished here.

Like Stallone, Schwarzenegger begins to show his age in this movie, and his one-liners are pretty much nonexistent.  Looking even older than both Stallone and Schwarzenegger is Harrison Ford, who was filling in for Bruce Willis who left this movie over a contract dispute.  Ford plays a different character, but like Willis, he’s the guy who hires The Expendables.  I missed Willis’ shady persona.  Ford seemed like an aged Jack Ryan.

(Harrison Ford enters.)

FORD:  Did you just call me old?

MA:  I said you looked old in the movie.

FORD:  I ought to kick your ass.

MA:  I’d settle for an autograph.

FORD:  Autograph?  After you just insulted me in my own theater?

MA:  Your theater?  Are you working cinema security too?

FORD:  No, I run this place.  I’m the manager!

MA:  That’s a role I could see you playing.

FORD:  You call me old again I’m sending Schwarzenegger after you!

(Ford exits.)

MA:  I guess he’s getting sensitive in his old a— eh hem.  Moving right along.

Wesley Snipes isn’t bad, and he’s in a bunch of scenes, but like the rest of the cast he definitely would have benefitted from a better script.  Dolph Lundgren doesn’t need a good script as he just can stand there and look menacing, which he does again here to great effect.  Randy Couture also fares pretty well, but Terry Crews’ screen time is greatly reduced.  Kelsey Grammer lumbers through a throwaway role as Bonaparte, the man who assembles Stallone’s new team.

Mel Gibson gets the best lines in the movie, and he chews up the scenery as the main baddie, although sadly, he’s not given much to do other than get in Stallone’s face and tell him all the awful things he’s going to do to him.  But the thing is, when Gibson says all these menacing lines, he’s damned believable.  If only his character Stonebanks had been worthy of his performance.

Antonio Banderas as Galgo is supposed to be the comic relief in the movie.  The running gag is that no one wants Galgo on their team because he never stops talking, but this is hardly funny.  Banderas seems to be having a great time throughout, but it’s such a strange role, I just never got it.  It would have made more sense had the character been one of the newbies. Why would Ross be interested in an older agent who obviously couldn’t make it on a team when he was shunning his own proven team of veterans?  Banderas’ goofy personality just doesn’t fit in with the tone of the rest of the movie.

The newbies were so underdeveloped they’re hardly worth mentioning.  Kellan Lutz [from the TWILIGHT movies and THE LEGEND OF HERCULES (2014)] probably made the biggest impression as Smilee, the man who sees himself as Ross’ possible successor.  Glen Powell as Thorn and Victor Ortiz as Mars are pretty much interchangeable and they do very little.  Ronda Rousey stands out as Luna, since she’s the only woman on the team, and she’s certainly an eye full, but when even she doesn’t make much of an impression, that tells you how weak this movie is.

THE EXPENDABLES 3 also features a completely ludicrous third act.  When the cavalry arrives to rescue Stallone’s captured newbies, they find themselves taking on an entire army, which Mel Gibson’s Stonebanks has at his disposal.  And so we’re supposed to believe that this small group can outgun and outlast an army?  I don’t think so.

And unlike in THE EXPENDABLES 2 which featured a climactic bout between Stallone and Van Damme that was worth the price of admission on its own, the climactic showdown here between Stallone and Gibson is somewhat of a dud.  I expected much, much more.

This is also the first movie in the series to be rated PG-13, as the first two were rated R, which means people in this movie get to be shot, blown up, and beaten without shedding a single drop of blood.  Some may argue that this is a step up from fake looking CGI blood.

Yet, in spite of all these problems, it’s difficult for me to hate a movie featuring Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, and Wesley Snipes, and so no I didn’t hate this one.  These guys can still entertain, even in a bad movie, and THE EXPENDABLES 3, sorry to say, is a bad movie.   It’s lifted by its star power, which is the only reason I’m giving this one more than one knife.

I give it a lackluster two knives.

Well, that’s it for now. I’m off to see another movie.

(A grenade lands at his feet.)

Or not.

(There is a huge explosion, and when the dust clears, MA is still standing there.)

MA: This is one time I’m happy about a fake looking CGI effect.

(MA exits into the movie theater.)

—END—

 

 

 

 

 

REDEMPTION (2013) – Decent Drama for Action Star Jason Statham

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Streaming Video Review:  REDEMPTION (2013)

by

Michael Arruda

 

Jason Statham is one of the best action movie actors working today, even if his movies tend to gravitate towards the familiar. 

 Redemption poster

The good news for Statham fans is that REDEMPTION (2013), Statham’s latest movie, which is now available on streaming video, tweaks this familiar pattern, as it’s less of an action film and more of a dark drama.  And Statham is just as enjoyable here in a role that gives him more to do than just beat up on people. 

 

The bad news for Statham fans is the movie’s plot doesn’t always hold water.

 

In REDEMPTION, Joey (Jason Statham) is a former Special Forces soldier who has dropped off the radar in an attempt to elude a military court martial.  While serving in Afghanistan, Joey’s unit was ambushed and killed, and in retaliation, Joey took vengeance upon innocent civilians.

 

Joey is now homeless and living on the streets of London.  But just when things seem to have hit rock bottom for him, Joey finds himself inside an apartment belonging to a man who’s away for the summer.  Joey decides to secretly live inside the apartment, using it as an opportunity to get his life back.

 

He befriends a young nun Cristina (Agata Buzek) who runs a soup kitchen, and she promises to help Joey locate his missing girlfriend.  Sadly, Cristina discovers that the girlfriend has been murdered, and Joey decides to seek out the killer.  Joey also finds work as an enforcer for a gangster named Mr. Choy (Benedict Wong).  Joey uses his earnings from breaking people’s heads on Mr. Choy’s behalf to give back to his homeless buddies, delivering items like pizza and Chinese food to Cristina’s soup kitchen.  What a thoughtful guy!

 

Joey and Cristina eventually become involved in a relationship, and as their romance deepens, Joey closes in on his former girlfriend’s killer.  Ultimately, he has to make the decision between pursuing his relationship with Cristina and pursuing his former girlfriend’s killer, all the while eluding the authorities who are after him.

 

REDEMPTION is a nicely acted thriller that works surprisingly well in spite of a plot that flirts with absurdity at times, and if not for the convincing performances of the two leads, Statham and Buzek, I wouldn’t have bought the half of it.

 

The script by writer/director Steven Knight isn’t going to win any awards for most credible screenplay.

 

For example, Statham’s Joey sets up shop in the abandoned apartment so easily you’d think his name was on the lease.  He conveniently discovers the keys to the apartment, and he finds the owner’s bank card and pin number in the mail, giving him access to the man’s bank account.  I guess the guy, who’s gone for the summer, forgot to have his mail held.  How convenient for Joey!  This man also doesn’t notice the large sum of money withdrawn from his account.  This is all possible, of course, but not very credible.

 

Then there’s the relationship between Joey and Cristina.  Statham and Buzek share a decent amount of chemistry and I liked them both, easily believing that they had feelings for each other.  However, as refreshing as the two actors make this relationship, it’s still rather bizarre.  Cristina is a nun, and yet here she is involved with Joey, and she only appears mildly troubled by this development, but as a nun, shouldn’t she be really troubled?   

 

Granted, later on we do learn more about Cristina’s background and the reason she became a nun in the first place, which does explain perhaps why she might not be the most faithful religious, so this helps, but for the most part, Cristina’s character is not clearly defined.  Is she having a difficult time being a nun?  Is she seeking this relationship because of a lack of faith?  Is Joey so hot a catch she can’t resist him?  Is this relationship causing her angst?  I wanted to know these things, but the film doesn’t satisfactorily explain them.

 

And I’m not so sure I completely bought Joey’s “Robin Hood” act.  He’s a little too selfless for my tastes.  I mean, he makes a point of sharing his earnings with his former homeless buddies, with Cristina’s soup kitchen, with Cristina herself, buying her things like a new dress, and with his ex-wife and young daughter.  How nice can this guy be?

 

REDEMPTION doesn’t really have much of a villain either.  Mark Forrester (Christian Brassington), the man who murdered Joey’s former girlfriend, is the main bad guy, but he isn’t really in the movie all that much and doesn’t make a huge impression when he is.  This bothered me less than usual, since REDEMPTION is more a character study of Joey and Cristina than an action tale in need of a strong villain.

 

And it’s on this level that REDEMPTION worked for me.  I enjoyed the performances by the two leads, Jason Statham and Agata Buzek.  Statham stood out because it was a change of pace for him.  Sure, he’s still a tough guy, a walking assassination machine, but there’s much more going on emotionally with Joey than what we usually see with a Jason Statham character, and Statham handles the extra depth with relative ease.

 

Agata Buzek was probably my favorite part of this film because she was such a unique leading lady.  She’s not your typical glamour beauty.  She has a look to her that is quite different, refreshing, and still very sexy. 

 

Director Steven Knight has made a slick-looking, solid if unremarkable thriller.  I can’t say that any scenes truly stood out, suspense, action, or otherwise, but with two very strong leads in Statham and Buzek, it all seems to work.

 

I’ve been a Jason Statham fan for a while now.  Compared to his other recent films, REDEMPTION falls somewhere in the middle.  I enjoyed the over-the-top fun of PARKER (2013) and THE EXPENDABLES 2 (2012), the grittiness of BLITZ (2011), and the plot twists of KILLER ELITE (2011) better, but REDEMPTION was more satisfying than the sloppy and weakly plotted SAFE (2012).

 

REDEMPTION is not a knockout by any means, but it is a decent drama that provides solid entertainment, even if its road to redemption Robin Hood story doesn’t always ring true.

 

—END—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE MECHANIC (2011) Decent Jason Statham Movie

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The Mechanic posterBlu-Ray Review:  THE MECHANIC (2011)

By

Michael Arruda

Okay, I admit, I’ve become a fan of Jason Statham, and so it’s possible I may like his movies more than the average moviegoer.  I like Statham because he’s a convincing tough guy hero, and I believe it when he wipes out more than one bad guy at the same time.

That being said, THE MECHANIC (2011), a remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson movie of the same name, is just OK.  While it certainly showcases Statham’s talents, at the end of the day, it’s nothing special.  But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it.  I did.

In this new version of THE MECHANIC, which I missed when it opened in theaters and only recently caught up with on Blu-Ray, Statham plays Arthur Bishop, a hit man, or “mechanic” who works for a secret organization that employs him and others like him to kill people.  When the organization orders Bishop to kill his mentor Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland), Bishop seeks a meeting with his boss Dean (Tony Goldwyn) to verify this information. Dean explains to Bishop that Harry had betrayed the organization and was responsible for the death of several of their agents.  As a result, he’s become a liability and needs to be eliminated.

Ever the professional, Bishop carries out his mission and kills his friend Harry.  Afterwards, Bishop reaches out to Harry’s estranged son Steve (Ben Foster), who at first wants nothing from his deceased dad’s friend, but later changes his mind and expresses an interest in doing what Bishop does.  Steve wants Bishop to teach him the business, but Bishop tells him no.

But then for some reason— guilt, perhaps? — Bishop changes his mind and takes Ben under his wing and trains him in the fine art of being an assassin.  As the two men work together, they both make realizations.  Bishop discovers information that contradicts Dean’s story that Harry was a traitor, while Steve discovers the truth about who murdered his father, setting up an ending that sadly is all too predictable.

I enjoyed both Jason Statham and Ben Foster in this movie. Statham does what he does best, which is act tough and kill people without batting an eye, and looking believable every second he does it.  While some may complain that Statham keeps playing the same guy in his movies, I like his persona and have no problem with it.  It’s what countless action stars have done before him, from John Wayne to Sylvester Stallone.

But as good as Statham is, it’s Ben Foster who delivers the best performance in the movie.  As Steve McKenna, he’s not just some young kid emotionally distraught over the murder of his dad.  He’s a hothead, a psycho in the making, and the more interesting thing here is these traits don’t get in the way of his being an efficient assassin.  They make him better.

And this brings me to one of the things I didn’t like about THE MECHANIC.  I didn’t quite buy the relationship between Statham’s Arthur Bishop and Foster’s Steve McKenna.  Bishop is supposed to be mentoring this guy, and sure, he does teach him the tools of the trade, helping him to become a professional hit man, but because Foster’s performance is so riveting, I just didn’t buy into Steve as a guy who needed that much mentoring.  He seems pretty confident and deadly on his own without any help from Bishop.

To me, Foster should have been on equal footing with Statham throughout this movie, and the two should have been adversaries.  I would have preferred a story pitting these two guys against each other.

THE MECHANIC is the beneficiary of two fine performances by Jason Statham and Ben Foster.  I like Foster a lot, and this is yet another in a growing line of his notable movie performances, which include 3:10 TO YUMA (2007), 30 DAYS OF NIGHT (2007), and PANDORUM (2009).

In his brief screen time, Donald Sutherland adds some seniority to the film, and his Harry McKenna is an interesting character, one I wish had been in the movie more.

On the other hand, Tony Goldwyn as Dean makes for a rather flat villain.  He gets to say a few threatening lines here and there, but he doesn’t really get to do a whole lot.  As a result, THE MECHANIC really lacks a main villain.  Goldwyn was more effective as the dad in the remake of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (2009).

THE MECHANIC was directed by Simon West, who also directed THE EXPENDABLES 2 (2012), a film I enjoyed much more than THE MECHANIC.

Richard Wenk and Lewis John Carlino wrote the screenplay.  Wenk also wrote THE EXPENDABLES 2, while Carlino wrote the original THE MECHANIC with Charles Bronson.

The story here is pretty standard.  From the get-go, you know that young Steve is going to discover that Bishop murdered his father, and you know that he’s going to be none too happy about it.  It’s not too difficult to figure out where the story is headed, and so there’s not much suspense involved here.  And I must say that the payoff at the end is nothing to write home about.

However, one part of the story I liked is the way Statham’s Bishop goes about killing his targets. He studies the various ways people die naturally, and so many of his hits are made to look like a natural death, to avoid any suspicion.  Bishop is a very shrewd assassin and is quite the interesting character.

There are a couple of cool scenes in the movie, like when Steve takes down his target, shunning Bishop’s expert advice, yet getting the job done anyway.  The brutal fight between Steve and the much larger man he’s been contracted to kill is one of the highlights of the movie.  But there simply aren’t enough scenes like this in the film.

Yet, I liked THE MECHANIC, for the simple reason that I enjoyed watching both Jason Statham and Ben Foster.   Sometimes, excellent performances in an average move are enough to save it.  Such is the case with THE MECHANIC.

For Statham fans, this just might be enough.

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