Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Mechanic

Important note to all action filmmakers: a badass hero is good. John McClane is badass. Indiana Jones is badass. Everyone loves 'em. A hero so badass and so invincible that absolutely no obstacle causes him one single moment of effort, exertion, or adversity throughout the entire film is not good. It's boring as shit. And that brings us to The Mechanic, a movie it seems I should like since I love Jason Statham in the Crank and Transporter movies and I've been singing the praises of Ben Foster ever since 3:10 to Yuma, but I don't. I actually kind of hated it.

It all comes back to our protagonist Arthur Bishop, or, as we'll be calling him from here on out, Jason Statham. This is one badass man. Everyone he wants dead is killed with no apparent effort whatsoever. Every plan he makes goes off without a hitch. Every trap set for him is sidestepped effortlessly. Every goon sent to kill him is dispatched without breaking a sweat. Absolutely nothing goes wrong for him throughout the entire movie, ever, and there's no indication that anything we see him do is more difficult for him than going out and getting the paper in the morning is for you or I.

This is not cool. It is not fun. It's so, so dull. It's deathly fucking boring to watch. You might be asking, "but Tim, don't you love the James Bond movies? Bond never fails either." And it'd be a fair question, except that Bond occasionally gets captured. One of his allies or a Bond girl gets killed. The bad guy gets away from him. He loses a fight to the main henchman in the middle of the movie before coming back around for a successful rematch at the end. Jason Statham in The Mechanic is not even tested to any of these levels. The movie makes it clear that he is absolutely, literally fucking invincible, against anything up to and including dozens of machine gun-toting goons firing on him all at once.

The plot involves Jason Statham taking Ben Foster, son of his recently late mentor, under his wing and training him in the ways of the hitman. We watch them go on a few missions before they turn their sights on the movie's big bad villain, the identity of whom is incredibly, painfully obvious less than twenty minutes in to anyone with a brain, but who I still won't reveal because whatever. We do admittedly see Foster struggle a little bit early on, make a few mistakes and take a rather bloody beating, but this comes nowhere close to saving the movie, nor does the cold and emotionless relationship between the two men. No other character makes the slightest impact outside of Donald Sutherland in his tiny role as Foster's father in the opening minutes, which includes the bad guys and Chuck's Mini Anden in a completely nondescript role as Statham's sort of-love interest.

Like Statham? Great! So do I. You'd be much, much better off just rewatching Death Race, either Crank, or the transcendent Transporter 2. You could even go serious, non-action Statham and watch The Bank Job. But I insist that you avoid the dry bore that is The Mechanic. It's a nightmare vision of action cinema at its worst, suitable only as a cure for insomnia.

1 Star out of 5

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