The Mechanic (2011)

Posted: March 21, 2011 in Movies

Nearly forty years after the original starring Charles Bronson, Simon West’s update of The Mechanic ratchets up the violence and machismo, but it’s about what you might expect from a gun-for-hire flick starring Jason Statham. Statham’s character, (Arthur) is a “fixer,” essentially a hitman, who takes his assignments from encrypted Craigslist ads and clandestine meetings with Dean (Tony Goldwyn), a no-nonsense executive for a hush-hush organization. Due to professional expectations and, perhaps, personal pride, Arthur prefers his kills to be “clean,” which means the character is a silent, efficient assassin rather than the action star’s usual run-and-gun type.

Statham is the grizzled alternative to Bronson’s mustachioed blank slate, but equally stoic. His stone face rarely varies from Statham’s signature glower and clenched jaw as he slips stealthily into position, aiming to dispatch each mark in such a precise manner that the death appears accidental.
“You’re a goddamn machine,” reminds his wheelchair-bound mentor, Harry, played by Donald Sutherland. ”You need some companionship.” Unable to entertain the company of a lady (unless he pays her), Arthur takes on Harry’s son, Steve McKenna (Ben Foster), as his contract killer apprentice and reckless sidekick. Amidst all the gun porn and close-combat, man-on-man grunting, their bare-chested bromance borders on homo-eroticism, but only skims the surface without self-awareness or a sweaty volleyball scene.

Aside from the tension between the Iceman and his Maverick, the introduction of an overzealous amateur throws a wrench in Arthur’s typically meticulous execution. Covert, suspenseful operations, like the opening, give way to more frequent bursts of brutal, choreographed violence until a not-so-”clean” shootout in public that betrays Arthur’s code.

Both dynamics are evident in Steve’s first solo mission, a slow play that involves a chihuahua, an early morning coffee routine, Sodoku, and a 300-pound gay hitman. Despite the careful setup and Arthur’s specific instructions, a curious Steve blunders the kill at the bachelor’s swanky den in a knock-down, dragged out fight scene.
West, whose career highlight thus far is 1997’s Con Air, directs the action with a slick eye for what tough guys like and a retro vibe that improves on the original’s muted, often dated style. However, at no point will you feel in danger of thinking as Richard Wenk’s screenplay spells out the conventional trajectory from target to target. Ultimately, The Mechanic is standard B-movie fare with brooding bad-asses walking away from explosions — in slow motion, of course. As a fan of both Statham and the genre, this flick had enough bang for my buck, but I would have to admit the Bronson version was a little better (more story – less boom-boom). Still, not a bad way to spend an hour and and a half. 7/10

IMDB: Here | Download (AVI): Here

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