Review: The Mechanic
The world of the Action Star is a lonely place these days. It’s been a long time since the days when Stallone, Swartzeneggar, and Van Damme crowded the multiplex with their hypermacho popcorn fare, and the new crop of young leading men, though talented and filled with promise, have neither the ability nor the intention of filling those shoes.
Thankfully Jason Statham came along.
The tough guy from Britain brings his special brand of action class to the theater once again in The Mechanic, a straightforward yet propulsive hitman flick that hits all of its marks without the supposition of being anything more than it is. Statham can glower with more charisma than anyone currently in Hollywood, and the film gives him a skilled foil in a bright young actor Ben Foster, who plays a young wannabe assassin who comes under Statham’s wing. Foster imbues his role with more nuance than I’m sure it had on the page, and he’s able to hold the screen right along with the formidable Statham
The film evolves into more or less into a collection of well-staged set pieces, each one featuring the two killers plying their trade as badass’ly as you’d expect from a Simon West film. West was once a director du jour of action flicks in the late 90s (Con Air and the like), but he’s been quiet lately. He’s a skilled and patient director of action, and the film’s editing allows for longer takes that hearken back to 80s stunt fests more than the jump-cutting messes of today. It’s refreshing to see a guy like West back in the saddle.
Jason Statham isn’t going to be confused for Daniel Day Lewis any time soon, but people often downplay the natural screen presence and subtle charisma he possesses. The guy knows his way around a frame, and he always provides enough inner emotion to make his brutes more compelling than they would otherwise be.
The film is content to be an enjoyable actioner, and there really isn’t much to separate it from the pack outside of Statham’s always welcome machismo. The plot takes exactly the turns you’d expect with very few surprises, and there’s a problematic scene drenched in an unfortunate gay panic. But a film being exactly what you expect it to be isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and despite the flaws, The Mechanic is plenty worthy of a place in the future Jason Statham DVD box set.