The Mechanic (2011 movie) review…

The Mechanic (2011 movie) review after the break…

The Mechanic (2011 movie) review…

“The Mechanic” is a 2011 film starring Jason Statham as a sophisticated assassin who takes on a younger apprentice (Ben Foster) but each begins to have their own agenda that soon must be settled. Was it mentioned that Statham killed Foster’s father? Yeah… That’s bound to put a crimp in the friendship.

A remake, reboot, re-imagine, re-something of the 1972 film of the same name, “The Mechanic” is such a “by-the-numbers” actioner that it makes one curious to see if the original was that good and the remake was botched or if the original simply hasn’t aged well and the powers-that-be merely copied a rather dated and now uninspiring movie.

An entire world has changed since 1972 and a bajillion of “assassin as sympathetic character” movies have come and gone, some more successful then others. The 2011 Mechanic, on the surface, simply doesn’t have much originality to offer – We’ve seen it all before and seen it performed better elsewhere. Jason Statham plays… Jason Statham… again. Is there a movie where Tony Goldwyn isn’t the nefarious “plot twist” villain? Mini Anden is in this film so that she can briefly be seen topless, push the movie into an R-rating, and then leave. Donald Sutherland didn’t just phone this in, he managed to stay seated the entire time.

Part of the problem with this film is that it follows the original 1972 a bit too close for contemporary comfort. When Statham is asked to kill Sutherland (his best friend), there’s no investigation by Statham to see if he actually did it? No attempt at a fake assassination (a bomb, perhaps) to buy time? Why didn’t Sutherland just reveal what he knew – “Hey, Dean is the real bad guy, don’t shoot me.” Also, why not show the mistrust between Statham and Foster? All of sudden, Statham’s old house is blown up along with the car that he had been working on for “2 years.” Just like that. Does Statham always rig his house like that? Note to self – Avoid that house every Halloween.

There’s nothing wrong with the action in this film but, besides the action and the sneeze-and-you’ll-miss-it nudity, there’s simply nothing here. What worked in 1972 doesn’t work in contemporary times. Why not give Statham some incurable disease to give him a reason to take Foster in as an apprentice? Why not show Statham as a socially awkward, backwards, recluse that needs friends to give a reason to befriend Foster? Why not make Foster more sympathetic since we never see him in a favorable light (we’re told he’s a screw-up and even his father doesn’t like him)? Why not make Sarah (Mini Anden) something more then fodder for basic cable censors? Why not have the brutish and unsophisticated Foster become more nuanced by the end of the film?

Simply using the skeleton of the 1972 film and then adding contemporary muscle and clothes onto this film is just not enough – Pierce Brosnan in “The Matador” showed a more depressed, burnt-out hitman; There are dozens of “apprentice vs. master” films out there who’ve shown that relationship with more nuance and emotional investment; Even Bruce Willis’ portrayal of “The Jackal” (a movie who’s few assets includes Jack Black in an early non-comedic role) showed the path of a sophisticated assassin’s murder attempt in greater detail. Is it too much to ask proponents of this film just what is new and exciting in this film that hasn’t been attempted before?

It is with more then a touch of irony that the original scriptwriter, Lewis John Carlino, considered the 1972 film one of the big disappointments of his career. The 2011 version of the same film does nothing to cast a shadow on it’s predecessor.

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