Usually Jason Statham makes great date movies—the Transporter series, The Expendables—a lot of adrenaline, some fun snappy dialogue, and, for the ladies, this generation’s Sylvester Stallone flexing, minus one shirt, plus one British accent. This is not a normal Jason Statham movie.
The Mechanic is a re-make of a Charles Bronson thriller from the ’70s. As such, its gritty and violent, and there’s not really a “good guy” anywhere to be seen. The story revolves around Arthur (Statham), who is the coolest hitman around: His kills are perfection and he intricately stages them as accidents instead of hits. Through a sense of duty to a recently murdered friend, he takes the man’s intensely troubled son, Steve (Ben Foster, The Messenger, Pandorum), under his wing to shape him into the same brand of cold-blooded killing machine as himself. There are more complexities to the plot then this, some of them genuinely interesting and unexpected (as long as you haven’t seen the original), but that’s the crux of it.
This movie teaches us the same lessons we learned in the second half of the ‘90s from every movie that wanted to expand upon Pulp Fiction: Murder is the greatest job in the world, as long as you only kill bad people or people who work for bad people, really beautiful/flexible women are unable to control themselves around terse, muscular hitmen, and if you kill people for a living, you are guaranteed to live in an amazing, tastefully designed house of luxury. It’s a “dad’s alone time” movie through and through. Every teenage boy on the North Shore is going to want to see this, but be warned, it’s not The Transporter, it’s a brutally violent, gore-filled exploration of killing without conscience. Steve actually goes so far as to say, “I’ve always had a lot of anger, now I feel like I have something to do with it.” And it’s not just violence, it’s very language-y and there are a couple of brief sex scenes in here that make up for their brevity with their enthusiasm. This picture is a hard R.
Having said all that, if you can handle the violence, it’s worth seeing. It’s more of a thriller than it is an action movie, a majority of the action ended up in the trailer and TV commercials, but it’s paced well and it keeps you interested. Some of the story developments are abrupt, and the dialogue is pretty focused on exposition, but I walked out of the theater feeling like I had taken a ride. Statham is as good as always (full disclosure, I am a Statham fan), but we’re not seeing anything new from him and I missed his usual tight-lipped delivery of intentionally corny lines—there are maybe two moments of lightness in this entire movie. Ben Foster has always been a great actor, he’s outstanding in this, and I can see him quickly becoming a staple of big budget action movies, so it’s nice to see this as his transition film as well.
My personal recommendation: Worth a watch for the guys—as long as they’re old enough to buy their own ticket.