Tuesday, 8 February 2011
THE MECHANIC (2011)
Directed by: Simon West
Screenplay: Lewis John Carlino & Richard Wenk
Starring: Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Tony Goldwyn & Donald Sutherland
The original The Mechanic with Charles Bronson and Jan Michael Vincent is a solid slice of 70's cool and tough guy swagger. An almost existential look at the life of a hitman and the relationship he forms with his young apprentice, it only really kicked into action gear come the second half. Michael Winner's film was much more concerned with the bond formed between the characters of Bronson and Vincent and the precision timed and often soulless life of a hitman, than it was with action heroics. Still a great film today but certainly open to a different interpretation and a remake overhaul, which is what we have here with the modern day Jason Statham remake.
This version, courtesy of Simon (Con Air) West, is certainly more action heavy but still provides a bit of blokey posturing and surrogate fatherly bonding to go along with all the bang and boom. Staham fills Bronson's shoes convincingly as the expert hitman who takes on Foster's (filling the Vincent role) trainee killer, the son of Staham's recent hit and former employee Donald Sutherland (proving very effective in his small role). Statham, the only real modern equivalent to the action stars of the 80s and 90s, continues his run of decent action vehicles (Death Race, Crank 1 & 2, The Expendables) with this solid and thoroughly entertaining remake of the Bronson original. Statham may not do anything radically different than he has done in all his other films (though he does hint at a tired and possibly damaged psyche from all his years of killing) but has the excellent Ben Foster to bounce hard boiled swagger off this time. Foster is ace as the possibly slightly unhinged wannabe hitman, who despite smoking and drinking just a bit too much to convince us how tough and edgy he is, holds his own against Statham. The two have good chemistry forming a convincing bond (and managing to, just, stay clear of the homoerotic tendency tough guy action flicks often slip into) and it's fun watching them go about dispatching bad guys in various creative ways before the inevitable and predictable climax.
While the trailers ramped up the action quotient, the flick actually takes it time getting to all the fisticuffs and gunfire but once it does, there is a fair share of it and it pretty much doesn't stop come the second half of the flick. While West can't quite get away from all this over-editing nonsense modern action films have found themselves in, the action is for the most part well staged and easy to follow. Set-pieces include a wicked gunfight come daring escape from a high rise building, the vehicular mayhem/firefight heavy finale and Foster's brutal confrontation with a formidable hitman foe where he uses every implement he can get his hands on to take out the giant. As mentioned the editing is a little tight on occasion but overall the action is crisp and full of old school bite.
While The Mechanic is nothing revolutionary and waters down the inventive opening and shocking ending of the original (though still manages a dialogue free opening hit: just 5 minutes instead of 15 this time around), it's still a good old fashioned, hard edged action film. It doesn't harm the original in anyway, makes for an entertaining modern interpretation and it's good to see straight forward, tough guy action films are still being made and released in cinemas.