Thursday, February 10, 2011

THE MECHANIC - Typical Statham Schtick

THE MECHANIC (crime thriller)
Cast: Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland, Tony Goldwyn, Jeff Chase, Mini Anden, Eddie J. Fernandez, Kurt Deville and Monica Acosta
Director: Simon West
Screenplay: Richard Wenk and Lewis John Carlino
Time: 92 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

Ben Foster and Jason Statham in THE MECHANIC

PREAMBLE: I remember The Mechanic (1972) was a big hit in Malaysia in those days. It was because it starred Charles Bronson and Jan-Michael Vincent, two of the hottest heart-throbs of the early 70s. This remake by Simon West, which has Jason Statham and Ben Foster in the respective roles, is an updated version, with its ending revised.

I have expected that director West and his scripters do something to improve the mechanics of the plot, but instead, this one is even more preposterous than the original. It is more gruesome and is packed with more fire power -- but it is an uninspired remake.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Arthur Bishop (Statham, above) is a professional hitman working for a 'company' headed by a Mr Dean (Tony Goldwyn). Bishop is a perfectionist who plans complex schemes to knock off his targets so that they look like accidents. In fact he is so 'professional' that when he is assigned to do a job on his close friend and mentor, Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland), he does it anyway.

Later on, Bishop encounters Harry's son, Steve (Foster), and decides to take him under his wing. Steve is soon accompanying Bishop on jobs, even though his apprenticeship has not been 'approved' by the company. This, of course, leads to complications which can only be settled in typical high-testosterone style.

HITS & MISSES: At the start of the movie, we hear talk of the hitman as a sort of mechanic who never lets his heart get in the way of his work. Well, in the second act, we see Bishop breaking that rule in incredulous and over-contrived sequences. Indeed, most of Bishop's 'mechanics' do not make sense when we think about them. Like, the first job on a Colombian drug lord requires Bishop to hide in a swimming pool of a hacienda full of guards. How could he have accomplished that in the first place?

I just had another look at Michael Winner's 1972 version on Netflix - and yes, the remake is way more violent and explosive. Needlessly so even. The screenwriters should have tried to make the plot more convincing - instead of making another mindless Statham flick - just as Winner continued to make mindless Bronson flicks that culminated in the infamous Death Wish two years later.

Acting-wise, Statham remains a washout, wearing his permanent scowl throughout the movie. It all boils down to Foster's Steve to hold the fort, as it were, 'seducing' his target before beating the heck out of him, and engaging in balletic shout-outs with Statham outside a high-rise. Eye candy (including a nude scene) is provided by Mini Anden (pictured right) who plays the hooker originally portrayed by Jill Ireland (or Mrs Bronson).

THE LOWDOWN: Mechanic or Transporter, it's typical Statham schtick.


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