Sunday, March 04, 2018

The Mechanic: Watch It at Your Own Risk

Movie Review: The Mechanic (2011)
Version: Library borrow

The Mechanic is a cheap-looking version of a modern-day hitman movie. It's not that it isn't a good film in its own right, it's just that we've seen so many good ones that The Mechanic fails to measure up to the better ones. But let's pretend for a moment that we haven't seen any of the good ones yet and measure The Mechanic on its own merits.

Jason Statham, who often plays the bad guy in other movies, is the good guy here. He's Arthur Bishop, an elite hitman who always works to professional perfection and with total detachment; it's nothing personal. It's just a job, but he does the job right. But then he is tricked into assassinating his mentor, Harry (played by Donald Sutherland), and when he discovers he was set up to make the hit, he goes after whoever set him up. So now it is personal. Coming along for the journey is Harry's grown up but impulsive son, Steve (played by Ben Foster), who also wants revenge. Steve doesn't realize at first that the hitman is Arthur, who mentors Steve into the ways of the hitman. Later, Steve  finds a clue that Arthur killed his father and once he helps Arthur go after the bad guys, he tries to enact revenge on Arthur.

Now the problem with this film is that Jason Statham isn't a strong lead for a film. He makes a great bad guy. He makes a great second as a good guy. But he lacks the acting chops to come off as the main character. In this case, he is so detached that you lack sympathy for him when he has to kill his mentor, you lack empathy for him when he tries to help his mentor's son who then turns on him, and you lack satisfaction for him at the end. It all becomes an exercise in rote storytelling. I like Statham for his swagger and his stunt work, but he isn't a list-A actor.

There is plenty of action in this film, so if you're after an action film, this could be a cheap thrill movie for you. Just don't expect to particularly like the hero or feel vindicated by his actions. Watch The Mechanic at your own risk.

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