The Mechanic: A Well-Oiled Action Movie Machine

28 01 2011

A remake of the 1972 movie of the same name starring Charles Bronson, The Mechanic teams up director Simon West with action star Jason Statham and Ben Foster. Here’s the breakdown:

Arthur Bishop (Statham) is a “mechanic,” a contract killer. When his latest assignment proves more personal than he’d like, Arthur takes on a protégé, Steve (Foster). Together, they set out to take down the men who betrayed them. But thier partnership proves to be more complicated than expected.

The Monkey: The Mechanic makes no effort to hide its true intent: shoot up, beat up, blow up, sex up. The plot is refreshingly straightforward without being overly simple, leaving the audience plenty of brainpower to dedicate to the over-the-top action and violence – and it’s all played out to Mark Isham’s sufficiently pulse-pounding, James Bond-esque score.

Since 95% of the movie is action, there is a lot riding on these sequences. Thankfully, The Mechanic does a better-than-average job, delivering a barrage of crushing punches, splattered brains, crumpled cars and spent shell casings that leaves the audience cringing and groaning – in a good way. And in addition to all the action, the movie manages to incorporate a healthy dose of tension; there are more than a few edge-of-your-seat moments, giving The Mechanic an added layer often missing from action fare.

Jason Statham has long since established himself as one of the leading action stars of today, and his turn as Arthur Bishop only reinforces this status. He’s slick, sexy, lethally efficient and manages to do it all with a wicked sense of humor. Ben Foster rarely disappoints either, and his portrayal of Steve was a compelling mix of lost soul and vengeful spirit.

The Weasel: Editing is one of those things most people don’t remember in a film. Good editing is usually seamless and works with the other filmmaking techniques to create the overall finished product. For whatever reason, The Mechanic‘s editing was not only blatantly obvious, it was blatantly horrible. Random cuts to unrelated scenes, unnecessary shots of characters just standing around or walking down the street; I’ve never been so distracted and confused by a movie’s editing. Thank goodness the action scenes were cut well, otherwise the whole movie would have been practically unwatchable.

Unfortunately, the cliché “training montage” reared its ugly head; are we really supposed to believe that Steve can sharpshoot, repel off buildings and keep up with Arthur after only a few short training sessions? Ugh.

While Arthur is clearly supposed to be the lone wolf character with no heart, he confuses the audience by showing random moments of emotion and unexpected glimmers of a conscience. This would be acceptable if his character was moving through a development arc toward something else. But he’s not. And in fact, by the end of the movie, he’s as cold-blooded and efficient as ever, making him a hard character to really root for or identify with.

The Mechanic is an entertaining action movie, with solid performances, but ultimately offers little else.

3 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? How does the remake compare to the original? Does Jason Statham still have what it takes to be an action star? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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2 responses

28 01 2011

Great review Dustin. a good call out on the editing! Like you, I felt that Statham and Foster did a rather decent job in their respective roles!

29 01 2011

Yeah, they made a good action team!

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