I had been looking forward to watching ‘The Mechanic’ for quite some time. Every time I took a turn by the local Red Box at Wal-Mart I would check to see if it had arrived, and even though it was advertised on the box, it never managed to find its way in the machine itself. In fact, it took me the better part of half a month to finally get my hands on it, but get my hands on it I did, and so now I am finally able to deliver this write-up. I was hoping this would be a really good bad-ass anti-hero on a rampage kind of movie in the vein of ‘The Punisher’ or ‘Shooter’, something I could kick my feet up with, relax, and watch bad guys get their just desserts, over and over again to my continuous glee. This however, is not what I got from this movie. Instead, I got the yawns. A giant case of the yawns. In fact I’d say I yawned so much during this movie that I might have missed over half of it. Which, if that half was as boring as the half I did see, then I only wish that I could’ve taken the final plunge and drifted into a good sound sleep, so I could have dreamt about better movies to watch than this boring piece of crap right here.
Might as well get down to the basic details here, from what I managed to remember from my half-induced state of near slumber. Jason Statham plays a heartless unsympathetic character named Arthur Bishop, an elite professional hit-man (Mechanic) for a ruthless killing organization that specializes in well, ruthless killings. Throughout the movie we see people meet their demise in many various ways by his hands, mostly designed to look like common accidents like drowning, overdoses, etc. The movie goes quite in depth on how to arrange and get away with a complex assassination, which if such attention had been paid to things like pacing, plot and the like, I might have managed to squeeze a bit more enjoyment out of this particular flick than I did. Back to Statham, this may be the most unsympathetic leading character in recent movie history, even in the gray area of anti-heroes. Bishop is a man who has made himself rich through being very good at the act of murder, and has a big mansion and nice things. Whoop-tee-do. Perhaps I’m not supposed to sympathize with the character completely, but, without at least some tangible bit of humanity to him to connect with, it just makes for a dreadfully boring and hard to care about kind of character. And even if I’m not supposed to like him, at least flesh him out a little more so I can understand the character somewhat.
I’m reminded of another, far superior, but less action oriented low key thriller about a hit-man starring Robert Duvall who travels the world doing contracts for people’s lives, who also is obsessed with the art of dancing the tango (hence the title Assassination Tango). That movie succeeds where this one fails because, even though the movie does not attempt to justify the actions of its main protagonist, it doesn’t completely de-humanize him either. It gives him some common elements of humanity, a family, a passion for something (besides murder), plus the fact that it has Robert freaking Duvall in it instead of stone faced Jason Statham but that’s neither here nor there.
Bishop is joined in this movie by an eager young apprentice named Steve, played by Ben Foster, who is only somewhat less likable than the Statham character due to his being a complete drug addicted, immature screw-up and downright annoying little bugger to boot. Bishop takes him under his wing because of a debt owed to his father, played by Donald Sutherland, the only person in this film I kind of cared about, who got to show some actual acting chops during the all too brief moments he had in this film. Steve looks up to but also resents Bishop, who he sees as a rock star in a sense. He desires the life, the house, the cars, and stylish belongings Bishop has earned himself, but of course, lacks the patience and precision required to get it. There is a big secret that the Bishop character has from young Steve which I will not (although I might as well) spoil, that, if Steve did find out, would make him want to use his newly acquired killing skills against his teacher instead of the assigned marks. And with that little bit of information you can probably guess where the story is eventually, obligatorily, headed.
There are some fun shoot em’up scenes here and there, Foster does a good job playing his part as the token screwed up youth, who’s learning the craft of his mentor. Of course with some entertaining slip ups along the way, like when he has to “seduce” a gay rapist three times his size and then somehow kill him, unarmed. And Statham is quite capable of playing a believable bad-ass, but like I said, I just did not like or care about his character here at all. One large reason why I was so turned off was that I think this movie went over the line in the cruelty department. First the part where he makes his protégé carry a puppy around for two or three weeks with the knowledge that he will have to kill it eventually. Whether this happens or not I will not reveal. Also the scene where Bishop performed psychological and even some physical torture upon an entire family of one of the villains here was particularly unpleasant, although even that did have some “fun” (although I hesitate to use that word here whatsoever), surprises.
The movie is well made on the superficial front. All the action is directed well, and there are adequate twists and turns and whatnot. This looks like at one point it could have been the framework for a very entertaining movie. It had the right people, and top notch action, but somewhere along the way, it just all fell apart. As the tagline reads, someone definitely needs to fix the problems in this movie, as this one just fell like a lead balloon in my house. My recommendation if you even need ask? Skip. Definitely skip. If you want to see a good Statham action flick, see any of the Transporter movies, or even Death Race. If you want a real meaty thriller about a hit-man, go look up that Duvall movie I mentioned earlier. If you are a sadist, or just enjoy a good yawn though, feel free to pop this one in the player for a good afternoon snooze. Consider yourself forewarned though. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some yawning to catch up on.