“Someone has to fix the problems”
Directed by Simon West
Starring Jason Statham, Ben Foster and Donald Sutherland
Arthur Bishop (Statham) is a meticulous assassin who carries out carefully planned assignments which involve dressing up as chefs and jumping off bridges. when his mentor Harry (Sutherland) comes up on his hit list he goes through with it, but from a sense of guilt begins to bond with Harry’s son Steve (Foster) and teaches him to be a hitman as a means of channeling his rage.
Bishop’s employers are a little put out by his training Steve, but shit doesn’t really go south until Bishop realises that the act of treachery of which Harry was accused was a setup. He and Steve go after the organisation and win, but then Steve blows up their car to avenge his father. He goes back to Bishop’s place and sets of booby traps that kill him, after which the audience learns that Bishop escaped death after all.
What’s wrong with it?
As a remake, the film completely alters the themes of the original. Instead of the essential futility of a life of murder, it’s about how cool Bishop is, and instead of turning on his mentor for philosophical reasons, Steve stumbles on evidence of his father’s murder.
Even more so than the original, the film drowns its themes in generic action sequences.
Although generally better acted, the central relationship has less heart.
The film is even poorer in female characters than the original. Bishop has sex with this one woman who doesn’t believe his name is Arthur, but that’s it
What’s right with it?
Well, I mean… it’s Jason Statham. Much like Charles Bronson, Statham has basically never appeared as anyone but Jason Statham, and here with his nigh-shaven head he’s one good chin scraping and a bar code from being even more Agent 47 than Bronson, especially as he exfiltrates from his scuba pool assassination disguised as a chef.
The acting is much better in this one, not that it’s a high bar.
How bad is it really?
The intelligent core of the concept is further stripped down and buried in thumping, generic violence. While a slicker piece of film making than the original, The Mechanic is ultimately a poorer film, and may be the first instance of a remake that is dumber than the original in part for omitting a scene in a strip club.
Best bit (if such there is)?
The opening hit is once more a winner, although this being the 21st century the sedate set up is replaced with a scuba drowning and the whole thing only lasts about five minutes. The hit on Harry is also nicely done, with Bishop seeming to warn Harry of the attack in order to get him to flee out of his secure perimeter.
What’s up with…?
- The total absence of meaning? It’s just a film where stuff happens. There’s no moral dimension to the story at all; not even really a nihilistic counter-moral about how the venal aren’t punished.
Production values – It’s a slick, well-made thriller, although the dialogue is a bit mumbly in places. 4
Dialogue and performances – The actors are all good, but the script is somewhat perfunctory. 10
Plot and execution – The film embroiders the original story with a revenge motive and a more convoluted set of underworld machinations, but only really manages to obscure any point to the proceedings. 13
Randomness – Meticulous mechanic unsentimentally murders his mentor, then sentimentally keeps a trophy, triggering his downfall only not. 6
Waste of potential – In the end, it’s not as good as the original, which is actually not that good. 15