THE MECHANIC comes to us from director Simon West (CON AIR, LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER) starring consistent bad-ass Jason Statham (THE TRANSPORTER, THE EXPENDABLES) and the always talented Ben Foster (3:10 TO YUMA, PANDORUM). THE MECHANIC is a remake of the 1972 film of the same name starring Charles Bronson (DEATH WISH SERIES, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN).
I hesitate to confidently say THE MECHANIC is the smart man’s action movie but it comes awful close. This is not a mindless action flick but rather a decently crafted story with characters that have some depth to them as opposed to a movie like THE EXPENDABLES where we just get a buncha beefy dudes kicking each other’s ass for two hours. While THE EXPENDABLES had some fantastic action, it was refreshing to watch something labeled as an “action movie” have some decent depth and character development.
THE MECHANIC tells the story of an elite assassin named Arthur Bishop (Statham) who knows his trade well and ends up training newcomer Steve McKenna (Foster) who shares a past with one of Bishop’s past targets. The evolution of the characters relationship is predictable at times yet maintains enough depth to stay engaged. Statham is great as the stoic Bishop and continues to show audiences that he can act as well as kick some major ass. However, Foster is the show stealer here as always and continues to impress me with the roles he chooses. Ever since I saw him steal the show in 3:10 TO YUMA I have been keeping an eye on him and seeing his talent evolve. Seriously, almost everything I have seen this guy in is fantastic. The real story here is the relationship these two have and they play off one another well. You never quite trust either of these guys and seeing them work together is a blast.
While I mentioned the story had some depth it will by no means win any awards. I found myself engaged enough to try and guess each character’s next move and the payoffs for both characters was always satisfying. The overall pace of the movie was a bit off at times. I feel like the characters abilities, especially Foster’s character, developed rapidly without much explanation. While Foster was totally a bad ass, I was often confused as to how he learned to be so precise and thorough. Maybe he was just a natural killing machine, but I would have liked to see a bit more development in that department.
The action scenes in this film is what really kept the pace going. After seeing just how brutal these characters can be, I found myself looking forward to new action scenes more and more. There is a fight early on that sets the tone and really had me looking forward to what was to come next. I appreciated a lot of the visceral real-life action that was onscreen unlike other films that rely on special effects and computer graphics to get the job done. Things really blow up, people get their asses kicked, and there are plenty of awe inspiring moments where I would cringe or yelp a noise as if the onscreen violence was happening to me. My only gripe with the action is that the camera was often a bit too shaky. I highly dislike it when a director depends on “shaky-cam” during an action scene instead of just showing me the action. I want to see that guys face get smashed in and I want to see that man fight for the gun or knife to gain an advantage. While I can only remember one or maybe two scenes where that actually affected my experience, I would rather due without it all together.
THE MECHANIC is a serviceable action flick that has some interesting characters and a well crafted story that could have used some better pacing and overall explanation. I had a blast in the theatre and never felt like I wasted my money. There are definitely some memorable action scenes here and a couple of cool characters to follow. This one is worth a watch for action fans whether it be in the theatre or possibly a rental down the road. Cool stuff.
Final Score: 7 out of 10