- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © CBS Films
Reviewed by David Medsker
he Mechanic” is the best movie that the recently resurrected CBS Films has released to date. Now, let’s examine that statement a little more closely. It sounds like a compliment, but when you take into account that the other movies CBS has released are “Extraordinary Measures,” “The Back-Up Plan,” and “Faster,” calling this their best movie is damning with faint praise, to be sure. If it hadn’t spent so much time trying to convince us of its seriousness, it could have been much better. Why hire Simon West and then not let him try to make another “Con Air”? That’s just cruel, for all concerned.
Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) is a mechanic, which is to say he’s a highly skilled assassin who plans many of his jobs to look like accidents or natural causes. His employer Dean (Tony Goldwyn), however, gives him an unthinkable new assignment: Arthur must kill his mentor and old friend Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland). Arthur does the job, and his guilt compels him to help out Harry’s hothead son Steve (Ben Foster), who’s struggling to make ends meet. Arthur teaches him everything he knows about being a mechanic, but Steve is sloppy and reckless, which does not put Arthur in good graces with Dean. Steve is also hell-bent on avenging his father’s death, unaware that the killer is right next to him.
There is only one scene that involves the police (and none of them have speaking parts), and that would be all right if Arthur and Steve didn’t leave a wake of death and destruction everywhere they went. The fact that Statham practically disembowels a shuttle bus without drawing any undue attention is reason enough for this movie to accept itself for what it is from the beginning, and yet it spends a good hour insisting that it’s a drama, damn it. When the movie finally does flick the switch, it’s pretty fun in a hilariously-over-the-top kind of way. If only it had flicked the switch sooner.
But even then, the movie still has some problems. The ending is telegraphed from the moment the plot is explained, due in no small part to the conspicuous casting. There is a B-story involving a call girl that is ultimately meaningless. Foster’s character is required to be both incompetent and ninja quick whenever the moment calls for it. The performances are fine, but the movie has no flow. It’s pensive and quiet in the first half, impulsive and graphically violent in the second. Its biggest flaw, though, is the sin of omission that the dialogue commits. Harry could completely change the course of the movie – and save his own life – if he simply told Arthur what he knew. Instead, he keeps quiet, and dies, senselessly.
You can’t help but feel sorry for Jason Statham. He has a very likable screen presence, yet the only lead roles he gets, with the exception of “The Bank Job,” are in movies which are frankly beneath him. Even Keanu Reeves got “Speed” and “The Matrix.” Someone should start a Facebook campaign to get Statham up to the next level so he can quit making movies like “The Mechanic” for good.
Single-Disc Blu-ray Review:
Sputtering out at $29 million at the box office, it should come to the surprise of no one that the bonus features for the Blu-ray release of "The Mechanic" are scant. There are 11 minutes worth of additional scenes, which consist of four extended scenes and an alternate ending to the opening scene. Only one of them (the scene at the bar with Sarah) had the potential to improve the film. The other extra is a seven-minute featurette on the movie's stunts and car sequences. That's it.