The Mechanic

18 Mar

Title: The Mechanic
Year:
2011
Director:
Simon West
Writers:
Lewis John Carlino and Richard Wenk, based on the story by Lewis John Carlino
Starring:
Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland, Tony Goldwyn, Jeff Chase, Mini Anden
MPAA Rating:
R, strong brutal violence throughout, language, some sexual content and nudity
Runtime:
93 min
Major Awards:

IMDb Rating:
6.8
Rotten Tomatoes:
52%

CBS films released their first feature a bit over a year ago, the January 2010 release Extraordinary Measures, with Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser, a film I actually gave a failing grade to. Then in April they released the Jennifer Lopez vehicle The Back-Up Plan, to which I gave an only marginally better C- grade to. In November they got their third release overall out in theaters, one named Faster, which I liked better and gave a C+ to. So, the thing I’m trying to say is that this is a studio that has started out shaky, they haven’t made a film I can truly recommend so far, but at least they  have been getting better and better.

And now we have The Mechanic, their fourth release overall and the first of two they have planned for this year (the other one being Beastly which I’ve yet to review), and they aren’t breaking the streak with this one, this is the best film they have released so far, it’s not an amazing film, but it’s an improvement. This is a remake of a 1972 film that starred Charles Bronson, and though this one doesn’t do all that much to make the story feel great, there are huge amounts of action and violence which is obviously what star Jason Statham specializes in, and then he has Ben Foster as his co-star here, a young actor who I feel should be better known as he always gives really solid performances no matter the film he’s in, like he does here.

The film is quite insane really, it’s insanely over the top and insanely filled with all the action movie clichés you can think of. But it worked for me because the interplay between Mr. Statham and Mr. Foster was really neat to see play out, that’s what really made the movie fun, not the huge stunts, but just their interactions.

Jason Statham, with his roles in Guy Ritchie’s two awesome films Snatch. and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, as well as roles The Italian Job and the leading part in both the Crank and Transporter franchises has made a name of himself as one of the biggest real action stars of the past decade, and the way he goes about his business in his films has made him appealing both to men who find his ass-kicking pretty damn awesome, and to women, who find him attractive. That’s his thing, that’s what he has going for him, he knows he’s not an amazing actor, that’s why he doesn’t go around doing more serious projects, but he knows he can be great in action films.

As for Ben Foster, well, this guy really is a good actor, and his presence, when combined with the sheer ass-kickery provided by Mr. Statham, is what ultimately lifts this film up to really respectable heights considering the sort of film this was. If you have seen 3:10 to Yuma and especially The Messenger then you know the sort of goods this guy can deliver, and even though the material here isn’t as amazing, he still does his thing.

The relationship The Mechanic focuses on is the one that can develop between a hitman, Arthur, and his mentor. The hitman, obviously, is Mr. Statham’s character, and his mentor was Harry, played by the awesome Donald Sutherland, the closest thing to a father and real friend Arthur has ever known. However, Harry has been murdered, and Arthur is in need for some bloody revenge and he also has to deal with Steve, Mr. Foster’s character, Harry’s son who’s a bit of a screwup and who thinks the life of a hitman is super awesome and easy to accomplish and wants to learn the tricks of the trade.

Mr. Foster rocks the role of Steve, and it’s cool to see Arthur sort of taking him under his wing out of respect to the man who showed him the ways of their unique craft and trying to teach everything to Steve in return. The qualities in Mr. Foster’s performance are pretty cool to see unravel, he feels volatile, like he’s ready to blow or really mess things up any second now.

That’s really it for the story part of it, a hitman who has his mentor murdered and wants answers and revenge while trying to protect and correct the son of said mentor. Other than that, it’s all about the quest for said answers and revenge, and the process of their job, explosive and bloody as it’s portrayed. But the relationship between Arthur and Steve is enough to keep you engaged here, and it’s really well played by the two actors who portray them, it’s cool to see Arthur open himself up to having a close relationship with Steve and it’s cool to see how Mr. Foster embeds in Steve much more depth that the character really called for, and make it a much better film because of it.

Grade: B-

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