Friday, January 27, 2012

"The Mechanic" (2011)

Starring Jason Statham, Ben Foster and Donald Sutherland
Written by Lewis John Carlino and Richard Wenk
Directed by Simon West
Rated R - Violence, sex/nudity, language
Running Time: 93 Minutes

I wonder if Jason Statham ever gets tired of scowling.  Look, I like Jason Statham, and the movies he's in, but really... they're all kind of the same, aren't they?

Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) is a mechanic - he fixes things, for a price.  Usually that means killing people.  Bishop is an excellent mechanic, capable of making his targets look like they were killed accidentally or by natural causes.  One day, he's ordered to kill Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland), an old friend and mentor.  Bishop takes the job, but ultimately feels remorse for doing so.

Not long after, he meets Harry's son Steve (Ben Foster), a troubled young man looking for revenge.  Feeling like he owes something to Harry, Bishop takes Steve under his wing to teach him to be a mechanic like himself.  At first, Steve takes to the training well, but Bishop soon learns that Steve has too much anger and is too impatient when he begins botching the jobs he takes.  Bishop is also worried that Steve will learn he's the one who killed Harry.

When Bishop discovers that his employers played him, that the evidence against Harry to prove he needed to be taken out was faked, Bishop and Steve decide to take down the company.

There's not much to "The Mechanic" beyond that basic plotline.  This is not a complicated film by any stretch, nor is it a long one at a mere 93 minutes.  But by avoiding unnecessary complications, "The Mechanic" manages to be a lean and muscular action film.  It doesn't delve too deeply into its characters, giving them only the most basic development necessary.

Bishop is given details like he listens to a particular classical piano piece when he returns from his missions, and likes to restore an old hot rod.  But these things really just don't matter at all because Bishop is just like every other character Statham plays - he's the stoic loner badass who can cut his way through legions of bad guys with whatever weapons might present themselves.  Therefore, your enjoyment of "The Mechanic" will likely rely entirely on your enjoyment of the Jason Statham brand.

The action sequences are really the highlight of the film.  Everything else is just kind of there to string them along.  Thankfully, they're pretty cool.  The fights are definitely hard R-rated fights, bone-crunchingly physical encounters where characters are often beaten and thrown into and through all kinds of different environments.  People are launched through book cases, off of buildings, into cars, through windows, and more.  A sequence in which Bishop and Steve infiltrate a high rise to kill a crooked junkie preacher is particularly notable, as is Steve's first lone job to take out a rival Mechanic who prays on young boys.

If you enjoy these kinds of bare-knuckle brawls, sprinkled liberally with some gunplay and a couple of nifty assassinations, then "The Mechanic" will likely give you that Saturday matinee thrill.  It's noisy, flashy and kind of ridiculous.  But isn't that why we like these films anyway?

See Also
The Expendables
Killer Elite
Crank: High Voltage