Friday, August 26, 2016

Movie Review: "The Mechanic" (2011)

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Movie"The Mechanic"
Director: Simon West
Year: 2011
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

A meticulous hit-man (Jason Statham) takes a young apprentice (Ben Foster) under his wing to teach him the tricks of the assassin trade.

"The Mechanic" is a remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson crime thriller of the same name. It is directed by Simon West, who is known for directing movies such as "Con Air" and "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider." In this version of the film, Jason Statham takes on the role of Arthur Bishop, the titular mechanic. Bishop is a hit-man who specializes in clean kills which he can make look like accidents. When he gets a job to take out an old friend, played by Donald Sutherland, he takes that friend's son, Steve, played by Ben Foster, under his wing and teaches him the business of professional murder, though Steve has no idea it's actually Arthur that killed his father. Surprisingly, this remake doesn't stray too far from the path of the original's plot. It does take a far more action-oriented approach to the story, which gives it a much different tone overall, but we were shocked it kept most of the plot details the same.

Jason Statham in Jason Statham fashion plays his typical tough guy schtik, you know the one we've all seen him play in a thousand films in the past. He is the tough English guy who can kick major ass, and this is his part in about 94.875% of his movies. He is a relatively safe bet when it comes to these big, violent action movies, so he nestles into Bronson's role with ease. Ben Foster does a fine job as Arthur's assassin-in-training, one who makes a lot of mistakes on his path to being a hit-man. Donald Sutherland has a small part here as well, and in his very limited capacity, he is effective in driving the plot where it needs to go.

Some viewers may actually wind up enjoying "The Mechanic" from 2011 better than the original from 1972 because of its faster pace, its focus on the aforementioned action over Arthur's methodology as a hit-man, and because of its cleaner but equally violent approach, (though we still prefer the original Bronson-led thriller). Though we don't want to really nitpick differences between the two films, one major one we will note is the approach to the mentality of the two main characters. In the 1972 original, Bishop was a stone-cold killer, and Steve was pretty much a sociopath. This time around, both characters are far more humanized as Arthur shows regret and remorse for some of his choices, and Steve actually cares his father is dead and seeks vengeance for whoever killed him. This may be done in an attempt to make the protagonists far more sympathetic and relatable to show that they have normal human emotions, which is fine, though we do prefer the more hardened approach the original took in this respect. Unfortunately, this movie doesn't have a great narrative, dialogue, or themes. Its main purpose is to take the plot from the original and modernize it, which it does, turning it into a popcorn action flick you don't have to think about too hard.

That being said, though not as engaging as the original, "The Mechanic" remake sticks closely enough to its source that it's not a completely different story, and we appreciate this in a world full of up-ended, overhauled remakes. It is a decent watch, even if it's somewhat forgettable.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 53%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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