Title: The Mechanic
Sounds...Vocational. If you need a refresher on driving an SUV through a bus, he's your man.
Does Jason Statham Take His Shirt Off? Is Simon West a hack?
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Two exploding Metro buses (that aren't really Metro buses) out of five.
...you kind of have to squint to see it.
Brief Plot Synopsis: New Orleans-based Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) is a "mechanic," which is exactly the euphemism you assume it to be (see also "professional," "enforcer," "wet boy") who ends up taking in and training the son of his old friend and mentor in a rather twisted attempt to atone for killing his father.
If Bishop Played For The Saints Would They Have Won The Super Bowl? And the FA Cup, and the World Series, and the Indy 500. He's just that bad ass.
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Bishop is an expert on killing without leaving a trace, and has obviously been in the business long enough to acquire that most coveted of assassin-related perks: the swamp lair. He's also the go-to guy for a mysterious corporation whose sole enterprise is murder, be it of political figures, drug lords, or even their own. Bishop is informed that his mentor Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland) engineered the execution of five of their best men in South Africa and given the contract, which he fulfills with little hesitation. After a chance encounter with McKenna's troubled son Steve (Ben Foster), Bishop sees a solution to his lingering (and alien) feelings of remorse: train Steve in the art of assassination.
Why Does This Sound Familiar? Because this is a remake of a 1972 film starring Charles Bronson and Jan-Michael Vincent.
No, That Isn't It... Maybe because there have been about 800 movies about assassins released in the last ten years.
"Critical" Analysis:It's no longer necessary to create even the most rudimentary plot for these movies, as the studios have apparently decided we're so (*ahem*) easily distracted by explosions and exploding heads they needn't bother anymore. Take the central event of The Mechanic. Bishop is such a perfectionist he spends weeks planning his kills, but when the shifty-eyed co-President of the company tells him his best friend has turned traitor, he barely bats an eyelash before shooting him in the chest. Given this staggering lack of due diligence, we shouldn't be surprised if Mother Teresa's death wasn't exactly due to "natural causes" either.
I mean, the guy was played by Tony freaking Goldwyn, of all people. He's always evil. Didn't Bishop see Ghost?
Bishop also manages to turn Steve into a top-notch hitman in a remarkably short amount of time. In one scene, he's a chain-smoking alcoholic with anger issues, the next he's scaling high rises and shooting it out with security forces (still with anger issues, though).
For those who care about such things, the original established the characters more thoroughly, getting deeper into Bishop's compulsions and painting Steve as a genuine sociopath. Statham's Bishop merely broods. He's The Transporter's Frank Martin without the wire fu, Crank's Chev Chelios without the Takashi Miike wrapping paper. Unfortunately, this lack of accoutrements just makes him boring. Statham can eagle claw a squadron of ninjas to death at this point, so we're going to need a little more color to his personality than "listens to classical music" and "rebuilds classic cars."
Am I the only one who wouldn't mind seeing Jason Statham play something besides a coolly efficient butt kicking machine? Don't get me wrong, he's the baddest-ass bald guy (or baldest bad ass, take your pick) around, but hasn't strayed much from the Transporter/Crank template in the last few years, 2008's The Bank Job being a notable exception. Where's Gus Van Zant when you need him?
Steve, on the other hand, is a troubled youth who doesn't turn on his teacher until he finds concrete proof that it was Bishop what done Daddy in. Which makes the ending, one of the few things they keep largely unchanged from the original, even more annoying. I won't spoil it, but let's just say 180-degree character turnarounds are just one of the movie's problems.
Oh, and guys, becoming an assassin totally makes you irresistible to the ladies. After training (and getting his ass mostly handed to him by his first solo contract), Steve goes from being just another jerkoff pounding shots at the bar to the kind of man strange women ask to violate them in some trash-strewn New Orleans alley. Say what? The last time I was on Bourbon Street, my, uh..."friend" got busted for the relatively inconsequential crime of urinating in the same type of place. It's an outrage.
The Mechanicis rated "R" for gratuitous head shots, screwdrivers to the abdomen, and sirloin steak abuse.