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Theatrical Review: The Mechanic

ByDarren Goodhart

Feb 1, 2011

Arthur Bishop is a hit man and very, very good a what he does, with his preferred way of working making all of his hits look like natural occurrences or else the work of someone else entirely..  He takes out high-level corporate and political targets for a regular employer, one Harry McKenna, who is also his mentor.  Arthur has finished his latest job and enjoys his leisured life until one day he gets a message for a new target to take out, his mentor, Harry McKenna.

McKenna’s partner, Dean, meets face-to-face with Bishop and gives him the reasons why, all of which look indisputable to Bishop.  Bishop takes the job and when he confronts McKenna, McKenna is resigned to his fate, telling Bishop that if someone had to do it, he would have it be Bishop.

After the job is done, bishop visits McKenna’s gravesite and finds his son, Steve, there.  Steve is angry, wanting revenge and guilts Arthur into teaching him the tricks of his trade… and of course hi-jinks follow.

The Mechanic is a remake of a 1972 film with the same name, starring Charles Bronson and Jan Michael-Vincent.  It’s also the latest movie from director Simon West who has previously directed the pilots to such shows as The Cape and The Human Target, as well as feature films like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Con Air.  In addition, this is the second movie in the last few months from CBS Films, their previous release being the underrated crime thriller Faster with Dwayne Johnson and Billy Bob Thornton.  Between Faster and The Mechanic, CBS Films looks like it has a clear direction on the type of action movies that they want to make, being films that have more of a earnest, noir and grounded quality (though The Mechanic has it’s moments of going over the top, but nowhere ear the flavor of say a Michael Bey movie).

I’ve not seen the original film, so I don’t have that to compare to (though I do know that the original is available through Netflix Instant Play).  Based on it’s own merits though, I had a good time with The Mechanic. It’s lean run time of 98 minutes doesn’t allow for any real padding and things pretty much get to the point in every aspect.  West’s action set-ups are all very nicely constructed and while no one will win any awards for their performances in this, the cast all turn in respectable work.

Jason Statham plays Arthur Bishop and as far as I’m concerned, Statham is money in the bank for a movie like this.  it may not be too different from other parts that he’s played, but he’s good in it, and certainly convincing that he’s a dangerous presence.  Donald Sutherland plays McKenna, and though his appearance here is brief, it does the required job of providing a sure mentor figure to Bishop.  Tony Goldwyn plays Dean, and it’s a pretty two-dimensional villain part.  Goldwyn’s certainly done better in other films, but he does what this one asks of him and doesn’t fall down doing it.

The real standout for me in the cast though is Ben Foster as Steve McKenna.  I’ve been a big fan of Foster’s for a long time now and he always brings something a little special to each part he plays.  Foster carries the right tone as he starts this, being angry and impetuous and by the time he’s gone through his training in Bishop’s ways, he’s nearly Statham’s equal in being able to pull off these jobs.

The Mechanic is a fun little diversionary action film and I had a decent time with it, not necessarily to the same extent CBS Films’ previous release, Faster but a good time nonetheless.  The film is played earnestly for the most part, only getting a touch on the ridiculous side near it’s end, but that ridiculousness more brought a smile to my face than anything else.  Basically, it doesn’t really come out of left field, considering the world these guys are in, it’s just a little more over-the-top than the events that lead up to it.  Still, though, it’s a pretty good time.s

Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

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