Monday, January 31, 2011

Mechanic, The (2011) - 3/5

Although remaking anything that has touched cult favorite Charles Bronson's snarled face seems like it might not be a particularly 'great' idea, just ask my brother, when you replace him with modern B-action film juggernaut Statham then you get a pass. Throw in some Ben Foster and Donald Sutherland and you just actually got me excited for a remake. "The Mechanic" sports some great ideas and some great executions but its lack of identity seems to spoil some of the fun. Not quite what I wanted from this film, but it did full fill my need for some dark hearted action and the occasionally solid dramatic arch.

Arthur Bishop (Statham) is the worlds most badass hit man (you mean he isn't in real life?!) who can kill anybody he chooses too and never be seen. When he is tricked into assassinating his only friend and colleague (Sutherland), he decides to take his wayward son (Foster) as his protege. When he realizes he has been had, he takes his new student on their most daring hit ever. Their own boss.

The major issue presented with "The Mechanic" is that its unable to nimbly balance the 'hit man with a heart' dramatic arch for Statham and the high adrenaline action "Mission: Impossible" inspired assassination sequences. It tries desperately to balance them both and succeeds in instances, but it rarely is able to make it cohesive enough for the audience not to notice that was the point. We get some great interaction and chemistry between Statham and Foster, but the rest of the character work seems trapped in action film purgatory. Statham is left almost too mysterious and Foster isn't given enough room to really give us the performance that his character needed to be completely sympathetic.

The action on the other hand feels the same way. As if its held back from its over the top and ridiculous paths by trying to be darker and more serious. It rocks when it nails it, with the final hit on the boss having a great vehicle sequence worth the watch, but it doesn't seem to quite be realistic enough to work in the dramatic vein and not big enough to rival the new standards set by other films (even the other ones with Statham like "The Expendables"). The potential to give the audience clever assassination plans seems washed over too quickly to get to the action and the dramatic tension and its rather disappointing.

All in all though, "The Mechanic" isn't a bad film. Not at all. It's spunky with its delivery. It's got great chemistry on screen and the cast is more then stellar in their roles. Statham rocks this role every which way but loose and Foster gives surprising depth to a role that should have been much shallower (even if it isn't quite enough). The action suffices, we get another awesome Statham headbutt that seems to find its way into all of his films, and the dark tone works for what it wanted. Could have been better, but its a solid film on its own.

Here's to making it a franchise for us Statham fan boys! 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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