Notable Cast: Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland
Review: What do you get when you mix Jason Statham with the director of Con Air? Besides instilling a raging mega action hard on, The Mechanic turns out to be a tightly wound action thriller that showcases clean execution and a clever ending. Based off of the film sporting the same name and starring Charles Bronson, West’s take sports a more intricate line of storytelling with its own stand out moments. Foster himself provides even more career evidence to substantiate the claim that he is one of the brightest young actors in Hollywood, holding his own on-screen with Action Jackson himself Jason Statham. Being a pleasant surprise of an action film, The Mechanic turns out to be way more than just another hit man flick.
Arthur Bishop (Statham) is the master of completing assassinations exactly by the plan. He can make it look like any situation he wants it to, except the real one. Being coined a “mechanic,” he works for an underground contract agency that employs him for various jobs. Long friend Harry McKenna (Sutherland) is also one of his employers, until one day Bishop receives a hit from the very top of the organization, on McKenna himself. Bishop is told McKenna sold out the company on an older mission leading to the death of 5 hired guns, and that to eliminate further liabilities McKenna must be dealt with. Filled with conflicting emotions, Bishop must decide to kill his best friend (the way he would probably want it) or sit back and let another mechanic take the job. Reluctantly, Bishop takes the contract and comes face to face with Harry before assassinating him. At his funeral, Bishop runs into Harry’s son Steve (Foster). The McKenna’s had a mixed past, but Steve is still upset about his father’s death and is looking for revenge. Bishop tails him and stops him just before stupidly committing a crime, but sees potential in the young man. Hiding the fact that he was actually the killer of his father, Bishop brings Steve on as his apprentice of sorts. But when details start emerging, the question becomes is Steve more of an asset or a liability?
So honestly, with so many action films produced, what sets the good ones aside from the Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever types? Let’s try and run down the list.
First of all, casting Jason Statham. The dude is a certifiable superhero. He’s one of the (if not THE) best action stars of my time, as Stallone (although he/his ‘roided up super clone is trying to make a comeback) and Schwarzenegger were before (sorry if I make people feel old with that statement). Girls want him, guys want to be him; there is no getting around the immense talent this Brit displays. For the action roles he has the perfect physique, the accent gives him a playful tone while his dead blank stare will stop a freight train in its tracks, and he isn’t afraid to do his own stunts since he is a mixed martial arts master and all. Statham brings to his characters such an intensity that exceeds any and all badassery previously established by other actors on-screen. And that is EXACTLY what Statham brings to Arthur Bishop. One minute, he’s hiding on the bottom of a pool like a deadly predator, the next he’s in a bar as an attractive young woman approaches him: “Come dance with me! Come on, please?!” *Cut to Jason Statham smirk* *Cut to Jason Statham boinking* Statham, you sly devil. The man can switch from charmingly delightful to freakin’ Frank Dux (+1 for Bloodsport reference) in seconds. Statham is enough of an adrenaline ride himself to watch, and Arthur Bishop is another great character added to his ongoing list.
Alright, so you pick the perfect lead character, what’s next? His sidekick. The chemistry has to work. So many films fail because there is no connection between the two people working together (See Green Lantern). Thankfully, the ambitious Ben Foster decides to try and keep up with Statham instead easily falling behind and letting Statham do all the work for him. Guess what, Foster kicks ass too! The man goes hand to hand with multiple dudes, and even pulls some pretty fancy moves of his own. I knew Foster could act, but he boosted his own stock by proving to be adept in at least pretending to know how to brawl. Most of all, he worked with Statham well, for the most part, and was a great casting choice for the young Padawan to our Statham master.
So the main characters worked, what next? Well, it was an action film, so how about the action? Would it fall prey to the many blunders of the frustrating like the clichéd henchmen that can’t hit the broad side of a barn with automatic weapons or over acted fight sequences where you can see clearly no contact is made between fist and face? Or would every kill be just as exciting as the next? Go with number three, because The Mechanic was full of originality, whether it was Bishop having to improvise weaponry on a hit or Bishop being involved in a gunfight while rappelling down the side of a hotel. You get a taste in the commercial when Statham jumps out of the water wielding a harpoon, much to the chagrin of a henchman’s leg. I also appreciate the fact that shootouts weren’t terribly sloppy, as characters realistically picked more effective shots when they could. There was also plenty of jump shooting and none of that over used Matrix slow motion bullshit, keeping the action more frenetic and dangerous instead of breaking the momentum. West proves he still has his Con Air wits about him, and anyone who argues the validity of Con Air will be meeting me by the bike racks at 3:30 because I will hear none of your foul words about one of the greatest action movies of all time.
So I tried to have fun with this review because I had fun with the movie. I wanted it to reflect the feeling I had while watching The Mechanic: I got exactly the amount of fun I wanted out of it, and then some. I wasn’t expecting a 10/10, but instead somewhere around a 6/10. Boy, was I surprised. Well, surprised by everything but Statham that is. For the action fan, The Mechanic is a definite watch. For those looking for something deeper, you’re not going to be as impressed as others. In the end, it’s still just an action film through and through, all be it on the better scale. If for nothing, at least support Statham. The more money he makes, the more in demand he is, the more movies he makes, and the more we see of him. Everybody wins.
Final Rating: 7.5 times I questioned my sexuality this review out of 10 (nope, all good)