By Gary 'Hitman' Murray
Starring Jason Statham, Ben Foster and Donald Sutherland
Written by Richard Wenk and Lewis John Carlino
Directed by Simon West
Running time 92 min
MPAA Rating R
Selig Film Rating Cable
January is usually a dumping ground for films, just putting anything on the big screen to keep some patrons coming back until Spring Break. It feels like that The Mechanic is another bit of action used to fill time between blockbusters.
Jason Statham plays Arthur Bishop, a mechanic but not on cars. He's an elite assassin who makes targets die by seemingly natural causes. As the movie starts, we see him at work, methodically ridding the world of his target in what will look like an accident. He does the job and retreats back to New Orleans and a favored lady of the evening.
His best buddy is Harry (Donald Sutherland), an underworld figure who has come to the end of the line. When the murder happens, Harry's son Steve (Ben Foster) wants revenge. Bishop stops a blind rage by Steve and then decides that Steve needs to learn the assassin trade. As Arthur and Steve bond, the bosses who set up the contracts begin to get suspicious of the duo. As Bishop discovers all the twists and turns behind an killing, Steve becomes more in tune about just who Bishop is and what really happened to his father.
The Mechanic is one of those films that look great in trailers but do not translate well as a feature. After the first bit of action, the film takes a very long time setting all the pieces into play. Though the build-up almost pays off in the third act, there is a very long stretch where not much happens.
Jason Statham is playing the exact same character he has played for the last decade. He photographs great and keeps that wicked snarl in check, but it is still much of the same old same old. We just don't get all the cool car chases that are usually found in his films. The big problem with his Arthur Bishop character is that there is no sympathy in the performance. There is never a reason to like this guy, not even in an anti-hero mode.
Ben Foster comes across much better in The Mechanic. His is a bitter man, lost in a world without his parents. As he learns the tricks of the assassin trade, one feels that he never gets any of the finesse it takes to do the job correctly. His will be a short career, wanting to draw attention with a gun when a more subtle method could be done. The centerpiece fight he has in the middle of the film is an exercise in brutality, hard and heavy will little style and much force.
In a 90 minute movie, the audience gets more than a little impatient for the final battle scenes. While director Simon West gives the crowd what it wants, it just takes so long to get to it. While not a bad film, there is not much in The Mechanic to make one want to rush out an see it.