Starring: Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland, Tony Goldwyn, Christa Campbell

Director: Simon West

Writer(s): Richard Wenk, Lewis John Carlino,

Cinematography: Eric Schmidt

Original Score: Mark Isham

Running Time: 92 Mins.

So there’s this film, it’s a remake of a Charles Bronson starrer from the 70’s, its about a hitman who grows a conscience after he is set up and has ended up killing his mentor, and there is action aplenty. If ever there was a vehicle made to star Jason Statham, the latter-day Bruce Willis, it is The Mechanic, so low-and-behold here he is spattered all over buses and billboards sporting (who’d have guessed…) a gun and his usual shaven Barnet looking more than a little peeved.

Thankfully, after his down-right cringe-worthy turn in the equally cringe-worthy film known as The Expendables, Statham is back to taking centre stage and growling his lines in that American accent that only the Stath seems to adopt in a film that veers a little further from formula than we had any right to expect, well in terms of approaching the material if not in the cliché ridden plot itself though in the writers defence a couple of nice twists do get thrown up to pep up an all to linear plot, but then again did you expect any less…or indeed more.

To give Statham his due the one-liners have been lost and the premise is played more for tense drama than over-blown action with a slow-burn first third that allows us to get to know Arthur (Statham) as he shares a handful of great scenes with an old master and mentor Harry (Sutherland, classy) and his, eventual,  protegé and Harry’s grieving son Steve (Foster, crazy and considered). It is in the scenes with Foster that the film manages to rise above the generic and forges ahead with a story, if not more, equally concerned with character as it is with action.

The scene setting and slow burn training of Steve offers brief assassination scenes that are played for sheer brutality with short sharp bursts rather than the overblown and all too oft parodied action of the Transporter films, while the annoying frenetic non-stop mess that is Crank 2: High Voltage is a log forgotten mis-step. The crescendo slides towards expectation a little too much but resists the urge to ramp the action up too much in the name of basing the story in a more real and gritty world, and all this from the man that gave us Lara Croft: Tomb Raider!

There are flaws, but too few to be overly critical given such a pedestrian story which becomes more than it should have in the first place, Tony Goldwyn (director of Conviction and The Last Kiss) is pure cut out villain yet he isn’t nearly menacing enough to have any impact though this is really about the eventual blow between Arthur and Steve, again hardly unpredictable but after their relationship has been so meticulously worked at the outcome is all the more shocking, on the downside it does mean the probably eventual Mechanic 2 is unlikely to be nearly as interesting…or fun, lacking that crazy that one character brings!

VERDICT

The Mechanic sits above the Crank and The Transporter sequels in the Stath’s movie pecking order thanks to a sombre tone and a focus of characters (that are thankfully fun and more than simply 2D) and some intense parred down action scenes played for tension rather than over-blown gasps.

 

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