Opening this Friday in the UK and US, Jason Statham comes to blow the cobwebs off of January with some explosions and heavy gunfire in The Mechanic.
Ah The Stath, one of the only people in my life who I will love unconditionally. Whether performing for the likes of Uwe Boll or being a part of Stallone’s Expendables, the man himself will never do any wrong for me. A few months ago, I heard that he was in the cinema that I had gone to a mere 3 hours earlier and this led to what I refer to as my own personal Great Depression. A large factor of this is for his interpretation of troubled soul Chev Chelios in Neveldine/Taylor’s low-budget indie dramas Crank and Crank 2: High Voltage, two of the most entertaining films ever made (I defy anyone who challenges me) but also for the fact that the man pretty much knows his limitations and sticks to what he does best. I very much doubt we will see him make a Junior or Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot, instead he will spend his years getting old disgracefully and have a hell of a lot of fun doing it. His latest, The Mechanic, is a remake of an old Charles Bronson film which I have never seen I will say right now, but it gives us the on-paper promising prospect of The Stath teaming up with Ben Foster, a young actor who’s been getting a lot of praise for character actor roles in 30 Days of Night, 3:10 To Yuma and The Messenger, an unexpected face for this film, but one I looked forward to seeing all the same.
Arthur Bishop (Jason “The Stath” Statham) is a Mechanic, a man hired to kill targets for a shady company. When one of the company heads is killed, Arthur teams up with his son Steve (Ben Foster) who wants to be taken under Arthur’s wing as a way of making money and also perhaps getting some revenge on whoever took out his dad.
You are going to see a great many 1 and 2 star reviews for The Mechanic and in a way I wouldn’t be surprised. Those who come to their films for anything approaching an original narrative or even thought will be wanting to go elsewhere, anyone who doesn’t want to notice logic and plot holes throughout an entire film’s runtime will need to see something else. The thing is, on a completely subjective level, for this film I do not care. Jason Statham’s particpation may colour this but it’s worth saying that I’m not a fan of all his films, though I would also say that like the original Transporter or even the Crank films, The Mechanic always knows what it is and basically tells you that if you don’t like it you can fuck off. How do we get across the fact that Statham isn’t gay? Let’s have him sleep with a prostitute who gives him meaningful looks but he never does anything about it because he’s just that cool. Why target a crazy preacher when you can target a crazy, obese paedophile preacher who also happens to be addicted to Ketamine? Why kill someone with one bullet from one gun, when you can kill them with 2 guns and hundreds of bullets? The Mechanic is overblown, bizarrely serious and downbeat for a hell of a lot of the runtime but I can confidently say that any fan of Statham or his kind of brand of as practical as possible, sparing use of CG action is going to have a good time with this.
While the action does take a while to really get going, once it does there are a number of scenes that are pretty damn impressive for this use of real people. A shootout and then off the side of a skyscraper escape is honestly quite thrilling and looks like it hurt a fair bit, an action set piece at the end comes over like the start of The Other Guys only done seriously and awesomely (is that a word?) and its not just Statham who gets to have fun as Foster also manages to have an impressively physical and bruising fight with a guy who’s literally twice his size, and not a lot of it looks like stuntmen doing it for him. For quality bone crushing action, The Mechanic really does do the job.
I would even argue that the lack of chemistry between Statham and Foster actually works quite well. Foster doesn’t look all that young yet Statham treats him that way, there’s never any real moments of bonding and throughout we know that Statham is only training as a way of paying back something he feels he owes and while the two never come to blows in the way you hope for, I think that’s wise, the resentment building up on both sides through the film before ending with an event which I can say I did not see coming at all, and tells the audience who they really should have been caring about all along. Incidentally, upon reading up about the original film, I can say this ending is slightly different…
The Mechanic is going to win zero awards. It’s story is pretty predictable throughout and the film never does anything truly above its station but for a well shot 90 minutes of Jason Statham kicking ass and taking names, The Mechanic will do a great job for you this weekend, and its a film I’d been genuinely pumped to see a sequel to.