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The Independent Critic

Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland
Simon West
Lewis John Carlino (Story), Richard Wenk (Screenplay)
Rated R
92 Mins.
CBS Films
Deleted Scenes

 "The Mechanic" Review 
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I am not Gina Wagner.

Gina, a fellow critic from the Indiana Film Journalists Association, enjoyed The Mechanic. I would almost use the world gleeful to describe the look on Gina's face as she described the film's ultra-violence and her complete and utter embrace of it.

If you'd ever meet Gina, this would come as a surprise to you. Gina has described herself as a 27-year-old who dresses like a 15-year-old, an astute observation, and looks like the sort of sweet, demure young woman who would be more into chick flicks (she hates them!) and movies about babies (she REALLY hates them!).

Gina loved watching Jason Statham and Ben Foster kick ass in the new action flick The Mechanic, a remake of Charles Bronson's 1972 hitman movie of the same name. While I didn't quite hate The Mechanic as much as expected, the blending together of Statham's "never crack a smile" acting and director Simon West's frenetic pacing made for an uneven, tiring and ultimately unsatisfying cinematic experience that earns only the slightest of recommendations for two reasons - 1) Statham does manage, somewhat surprisingly, to flex a little acting muscle here, and 2) While the film's dedication to hardcore violence may not be my thing, it is constructed with a relentless dedication and imagination by West and his crew. At least on some modest level, The Mechanic does manage to achieve its decidedly modest cinematic goals.

The Mechanic is an interesting film. While the film is far more violent than its 1972 predecessor, The Mechanic also possesses much more of a conscience about its violence. Charles Bronson was a stoic, remorseless killer who let his weapons do his talking. While Statham has never really been known as a particularly chatty actor, he's clearly more developed here and is more of a contemplative hitman prone to processing his hits in depth and in frequent need of a sort of spiritual renewal. Statham is the film's title character, a "mechanic" named Arthur Bishop, working for Harry (Donald Sutherland), who is bumped off far too early in the film and who leaves behind a vengeful and angry son (Ben Foster) who Bishop takes under his wing more out of a sense of obligation to Harry than anything else.

Once Sutherland is out of the picture, unfortunately, The Mechanic loses its only truly interesting character and pairing and ultimately deflates into a non-stop stylized action flick without much else going for it. At a mere 92 minutes, however, Simon West keeps the action going at a nice clip and, if these ultra violent films are your kind of thing, then there's definitely enough here to keep you happy. As is almost always true for a Statham character, Bishop is the picture of calm and cool and, as previously noted, never cracks a smile. Foster's Steve, on the other hand, is more prone to impulsivity and just plain bad decision-making. While Foster had lots of room to play with this character, he does very little with it and even Statham energy is noticeably drained once Sutherland is replaced by Foster on the screen.

I suppose on a certain level The Mechanic could best be referred to as a rather sadistic buddy flick, where Bishop and Steve take a rather perverse joy in their killing and where Bishop has most definitely turned being a hitman into a bit of an art form. The film's bad guys are truly horrendous, allowing audiences to feel a tad less guilty about cheering their demise, while the sheer creativity involved in the hits is hard not to admire. As Gina would most assuredly note, if you're into creative blood splattering then The Mechanic is most definitely a film you do not want to miss.

By the time we get to the inevitable confrontation between Bishop and Steve, it's not so much the body count as the ways in which the bodies add up that you will remember the most along with the spirited ways in which it all occurs. While he's certainly made an abundance of bad films, Statham is one of this generation's better action stars and The Mechanic gives him even more of a chance to shine. While Foster doesn't quite measure up to Statham, or Sutherland for that matter, he does provide a nice contrast to Statham that keeps the film an interesting view through the rather dark humor and horrific violence.

D.P. Eric Schmidt creatively lenses the pic, hindered only by West's frenzied pacing, while Mark Isham adds a somewhat surprisingly impactful original score for an action flick.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic