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The Mechanic

May 31, 2011

It’s hard to fully respect an action film and for me it’s even harder to watch one. Action films just aren’t really my thing. I’m not a fan of a thinly developed story whose only motivation is to show explosions and cool action shots. The solitary hero who ultimately saves some random woman who he gets to smang later is another formulaic aspect of action films that just don’t impress me. I believe an action film should be true to itself and focus on the action aspect but develop the story and characters enough to allow viewers to be more interested in more than the ‘bang bang’ moments. Die Hard, Predator, The Other Guys, and the holy grail of action films, Con Air, are the very few that I’ve seen to do the genre justice. Therefore after watching The Mechanic I was impressed with the more complex plot, overt violence, and a basically none existent love interest. The Mechanic is a different breed of cat that has plenty of shoot em up moments despite the fact that the story focuses on the relationship of three men.

Jason Statham plays Arthur Bishop, “The Mechanic,” a calculated expert assassin working for a company who hires him when a “job” needs to be done clean and discreetly. Detached from companions and associates, Arthur’s only relationships are a local tart/booty call who doesn’t know his name, a boat handler, and his mentor and fellow assassin, Harry (Donald Sutherland). But when Harry is killed Arthur decides to take Harry’s drug using, broken son Steve (Ben Foster) under his wing. Hell bent on vengeance against the man who killed his father, Steve must overcome his reckless behavior in order to learn the ways of being a successful killer leading to a barrage of bullets, drama, and suspense.

The Mechanic isn’t the greatest action film by a long shot, but it’s captivating and sets itself apart from its contemporaries. Statham’s character doesn’t require much skill from the actor except to brood and sulk but Statham has a presence on screen that most actors these days just don’t and to simply watch him is fascinating. The character Steve, however, allows the always impressive and underrated Foster to show off his chops as the damaged, angry screw up blindsided by the death of his mostly absent father. The two manage an impressive unexpected chemistry that is a mix of teacher/student, uncle/nephew, and a bit of bromance. The dynamics of Steve’s relationship with his father, Harry’s relationship with Arthur, and Arthur’s relationship with Steve makes for an intriguing web of emotions and motivations that happen throughout the film. The result of this emphasis is also a major strength for The Mechanic as it shies away from the mostly always unnecessary romantic subplot between the hero and a woman. Arthur’s woman instead is a shag that he has little conversation with but is gentleman enough to repay her with gifts.

The action in The Mechanic, however, leaves much to be desired throughout. Simon West is a visionary when it comes to directing over the top action sequences, as some of the deaths in The Mechanic show through brutal innovativeness; such as a bus running into a car at full speed causing the car to smash through the grill and down the stretch of aisles while the driver quickly runs to the back door hurling himself out the window narrowly escaping the blow out of flames and gas. Moreover the problem is the quick cut editing that causes scenes to lose its coherency and raises questions of what’s being shot, who’s being hit, and at times what is actually happening?

Overall The Mechanic is what it is, an action film but it’s a damn good one. It moves quickly for the sake of keeping viewer’s adrenaline pumping when moments of action takes place and interested when dialogue is happening. Foster truly shines in the film and the focus of the men’s relationship with one another makes for emotional moments thus giving the film uniqueness against others in the genre. There are much better action films to be watched but if The Mechanic comes into your possession don’t be afraid to give a watch.

SEE IT. And desire more “bromance” films afterwards.

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