Dir: Simon West, 2011
It’s not very often that a remake is half as much fun as the original. Even rarer is a remake that is MORE enjoyable.
Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) is a hit man, or “mechanic”.
Working for an elite and secretive organisation, Bishop is ordered to assassinate one of its key members, McKenna (Donald Sutherland).
McKenna’s estranged son, Steve (Ben Foster), teams up with Bishop to learn the tools of the trade.
Based on the Michael Winner directed and Charles Bronson starring vehicle (sorry, I couldn’t resist), The Mechanic, Simon West’s version is pure action from start to finish.
Although good, Winner’s version was slow in places and lacked the real action that this one provides.
Bronson’s Arthur Bishop is ruthless and cold hearted but it’s all about guns and sniper rifles.
With Statham being trained in martial arts, West is at liberty to have the anti-hero throw punches, swing legs and break bones.
Here, Bishop is well trained in hand-to-hand combat and will use anything within arms reach.
There is a role reversal going on between the two films.
Bronson was craggy faced and aged. His apprentice was Jan Michael-Vincent, a popular seventies heart-throb with pretty boy looks.
But this is the noughties and you can’t have anything less than a hunk in a starring role, so Statham takes Micheal-Vincent’s place, with well-toned physique and Foster in Bronson’s, with his less than poster boy looks.
Of course, this is a contemporary action flick so you have to suspend your disbelief; several times, to be honest.
Doesn’t matter, though, because that’s what you expect. Anybody who goes into a film called The Mechanic, that’s about a hit man and would like plenty of characterisation and dialogue that you can believe in, clearly doesn’t understand the concept of “action film” or “popcorn film”.
It’s mindless action. Nothing more. Nothing less. The only caveat to watching this to switch your brain off. It has one aim, and that is to entertain which it does spectacularly.
A far cry from his days as a cockney in Guy Ritchie gangster comedies, Statham is a successful star of action and portrays characters that you can root for, which is the key to all action films.
The erstwhile Olympic swimmer and market trader is not exactly Oscar material but he doesn’t pretend to be.
Hopeless at American accents, he is hired for two reasons; kick arse and look good.
From what women tell me, he succeeds at the later part and, as a man, I can assure you that performs his part perfectly.
Ben Foster as the apprentice is rather weak. He doesn’t portray the anger that is supposed to be surging through his veins.
Coming off as stupid, you don’t really care what happens to him, whether he lives or dies.
A small kink in the film but it’s not one that does any real harm. Statham is the star.
A solid action thriller, well worth your time.