Saturday 10 December 2011

Movie Review: The Mechanic (2011)

A remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson flick, the 2011 version of The Mechanic adds plenty of panache to no great effect. The gaping holes in the plot breed rapidly to create undignified and tattered shreds where the idea of a good movie once resided.

Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) is a professional assassin working for a shadowy organization headed by Dean Sanderson (Tony Goldwyn), in the business of eliminating assorted high-level targets for profit. Dean's partner and Bishop's mentor and confidant is the elderly Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland), confined to a wheelchair but still sharp of mind, although always neglectful of his black sheep son Steve (Ben Foster).

After dispatching a drug lord, Bishop is startled when his next assignment proves to be disposing of Harry. Dean confirms that Harry is double-crossing the organization, and Bishop proceeds to dutifully execute his one friend in the world. Steve does not know who killed his father, but decides to enter the business, and Bishop takes him under his wing. As they develop into a tandem duo of death, Steve starts to suspect that Bishop did indeed kill his dad, while Bishop uncovers evidence that Dean played him for a fool to justify Harry's assassination. Revenge becomes top of mind for both men.

Whereas The Mechanic's opening sequence meticulously tries to create the aura of assassinations planned with care to the last detail, the rest of the movie quickly disintegrates into wild shootouts and messy killings to which no enforcement authorities ever respond or follow-up. Bishop is always remarkably several steps ahead of everyone else, and easily dispatches hordes of well-armed assassins in action sequences designed for the non-discriminating market. Ben Foster is no match for Jason Statham, and disappears into the contrived shell of a man failing miserably to appear intent on avenging a father who never cared for him.

Donald Sutherland rolls in on a wheelchair, adds undeserved weight to a few scenes, and cashes in his cheque before the halfway point, doubtless happy not to have to hang around as the rest of the humourless mayhem mechanically plays itself out.

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