BOX OFFICE REVIEW: The Mechanic
Jason Statham and Ben Foster star in a remake of the 1972 classic...
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If you're an action film fan and you don't like Jason Statham, there's something wrong with you. The guy is a marvel to watch, whether he's playing a psychotic adrenaline junkie in the Crank movies, the best getaway driver in the Transporter series, or acting opposite the best action stars of the 1980s in The Expendables. No matter how you cut it, shoot it or blow it up, Jason Statham is today's main action attraction.
Which brings us to his latest: The Mechanic. A remake of the classic 1972 film staring Charles Bronson and Jan-Michael Vincent, Statham plays the titular role of the mechanic, Arthur Bishop, a hit man whose skills are unmatched and whose reputation is legendary. When Bishop is forced to eliminate his most trusted companion and life-long friend, the dead man's reckless son, Steve McKenna (played perfectly by Ben Foster), seeks answers and payback. With no where to turn, MeKenna turns to Bishop and Bishop takes the young man under his wing, teaching him the ways of the fixer.
First, if you haven't seen the original 1972 film, it's available now live-streaming on Netflix and is well worth a watch. Bronson is (as always) the classic action hero; unemotional, unflinching, and unforgiving. Likewise, Jan-Michael Vincent (in his first big movie role and a decade before Air Wolf) is marvelous as Steven McKenna. Both men have brilliant chemistry and, while the modern remake obviously overpowers the original in sheer budget, effects, and bullets, there's nothing like the first film to make you remember where it all started.
That said, no doubt The Mechanic will be one of 2010's most exciting, intense, action films. Statham is great and delivers on all accounts while Foster (who viewers will recognize from Pandorum and 3:10 to Yuma) performs perfectly as the young, brash, and angry Steve McKenna. Bishop's cool, calm and collected demeanor balances McKenna's raging, reckless emotions, thus throwing the pair into a odd relationship that's built on guilt, vengeance, and a need for companionship. Neither man fully trusts the other, thus making each scene they share together when not shooting bad guys unnerving, uncomfortable and intense.
The script, brought to life by the original screenwriter Lewis John Carlino, provides plenty of well thought out dialogue and action and, with direction by Simon West (Con Air, Lara Croft), the film plays perfectly to its intended audience with plenty of bullets, fisticuffs, and explosions galore.
My only real complaint about the story is the unrealistic assumption that McKenna's training (for an undisclosed amount of time) has made him a world-class assassin. We see McKenna do things the likes of which even a seasoned hit man like Bishop can barely achieve and we're expected to believe he's simply a quick study? Who knows? Maybe he is...though I seriously doubt it.
Overall, The Mechanic's plot unfolds to reveal startling revelations for both Bishop and McKenna, the likes of which neither is ready to know. Thus, learning the fate of McKenna's father and Bishop's oldest and dearest mate, the pair set off to dispose of the man responsible, whatever means necessary. This leads to even more bloodshed, bullets, and brilliant tactical planning as well as a somewhat unexpected resolution most fans will be anticipating by film's end.
With the best action star in the business, Jason Statham, and an amazing up-and-comer, Ben Foster, staring, The Mechanic is at the top of my 2010 favorites list already.
The Mechanic is rated R for strong brutal violence throughout, language, some sexual content and nudity and is showing nationwide now.
- Jess C. Horsley