There are times when it’s been a long day and you just want to sit back and watch something mindless and entertaining. This is the reason Jason Statham has a successful career. You generally know what you are going to get with a movie in which Statham is playing the lead “ high adrenaline chases, stylish violence, a mean and moody protagonist with a good line in wisecracks, and plot holes you could drive The Transporter‘s beloved BMW through.
So if you’re in that kind of mood and you’re thinking about watching a Jason Statham movie, make sure it’s not The Mechanic. Firstly, it’s a remake and it’s widely accepted that remakes are rarely as good as the original movies. So when you’re remaking a Michael Winner film, you’ve got problems from the off.
Statham plays Arthur Bishop, a master hitman. His hitman style, however, is disappointingly ruthless and efficient rather than excitably kung fu-ey. As is so often the case, he’s the strong silent type, but sadly his silence is rarely punctuated by witty one liners. He seems rarely to talk to anyone. There’s a prostitute he has some sort of relationship with, but that seems to be mostly so there will be breasts in the film, rather than for any character development or plot reasons. The only person he really speaks to is his mentor Harry McKenna (why, Donald Sutherland, why?) So when McKenna is murdered, you know there’s going to be some high quality vengeance going down.
Except that at this point, Bishop decides to take McKenna’s wayward son under his wing and spend a long time training him in the art of hitmanship. This bit seems to be meant to be character driven, but in reality is just ponderous and tremendously dull. Steve McKenna (Ben Foster, who’s pretty good all things considered) is a bit of a mess and a strange combination of super lethal killer despite no training, and absolute liability. To be fair, this segment took the plot in an unexpected tangent, so I guess we can applaud it for moving away from the blueprint of the Statham movie. On the downside, it’s done really badly and just feels like filler to get the film to the necessary run time.
Eventually we get to some vengeance but the damage has been done. While it’s bad enough that The Mechanic lacks any of the excitement or pace of guily pleasures like The Transporter or Crank, the worst thing is the nagging feeling that this movie thinks it has something to say about the nature of violence or mans’ capability to exact vengeance or something. Although this could be an illusion created by The Mechanic‘s terrible pacing.