Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) is a 'mechanic' - an elite assassin with a unique talent for cleanly eliminating targets. Of his two superiors, Harry (Donald Sutherland) is his mentor and close friend. When Harry's partner Dean (Tony Golwdwyn) points the finger at Harry as a traitor, Arthur faces a tough decision. By way of helping Harry's estranged son, Steve (Ben Foster), Arthur trains the chaotic and impulsive young troublemaker to be his partner. But while in pursuit of their ultimate mark, deceptions threaten to surface and those hired to fix problems become problems themselves.
Review by Louise Keller:
The assassin gets a conscience in this fast-paced action thriller that offers a few interesting twists between its huge stunts and violent sequences. With Jason Statham's name above the title credits, we know exactly what we are in for and Statham has effectively put his own stamp on this kind of role, just like Bruce Willis has as the reluctant hero. In this revisiting of the 1972 Charles Bronson film, heavy duty action and an assassin who loves classical music is grounded by an interesting (albeit highly improbable) plot comprising themes of loyalty, betrayal and revenge. Of course it's over the top hit-man material, but within its OWN reality, the film manages to remain true to its characters and as a result offers a tense and often surprising journey.
In an attention grabbing sequence set in Colombia in the world of wealthy drug lords, we are introduced to Arthur Bishop (Statham), aka The Mechanic, who shows us in stylish fashion, why he is expert in his field. He leaves no loose ends, the result is fait accompli and knows that the best job is one in which no-one knows he was even there. In a key scene when Arthur meets his wheelchair-bound mentor Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland), the action is all in their words and body language as their all-important relationship and bond is established. Sutherland makes every onscreen second count - without such an actor, the heart of the film would make no sense.
Revenge is an emotion that can get you killed Arthur tells McKenna's problem son Steve (Ben Foster), before expanding on the truism how good judgment can only come from experience - which inevitably comes as a result of bad judgment. Foster, with his slight frame, crooked nose and seedy look is perfect as Steve and when Arthur becomes his mentor, we understand Arthur's reasons, despite the fact there is little in Steve's behaviour that endear us to him. The set up involving A homosexual giant with a penchant for Chihuahuas is nicely done and while Arthur is cool and controlled under pressure, Steve lets his hot head rule his actions and reactions.
There are major stunts involving skyscrapers, broken glass, buses, trucks, cars, cranes and explosions and yet through it all there's a sense of ethics throughout - even if the protagonist's profession is that of a killer. We are reminded several times that everyone he kills is a nasty piece of work - druglords, weapons dealers and manipulators. Having a fix-it man on hand is useful - in this instance.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Simon West engineers The Mechanic with the precision of stainless steel instruments as he brings to the screen this action thriller, a genre which Hollywood does best ... and biggest. It's not on the scale of a Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer movie, but it's every bit as hard edged and efficient: it goes in for the kill, with little time for character exposition or sightseeing, either in New Orleans or Chicago, two of its key locations.
All the same, Ben Foster doers a great job of creating a lurking, unpredictable Steve and Jason Statham hardly need character exposition: he is what he always has been on screen, action man with more or less one single facial expression, that of determined action. Donald Sutherland has a smaller role as Harry the wise old man of the assassination bureau and Jeff Chase makes an impression as Burke, the perverted sexual hunter who tangles with Steve.
That scene is one of the film's standout fight sequences but there are others, as well as car crashes and a critical fight on board a coach, in which hand luggage becomes weaponry. At his home, though, Arthur likes to play classical music on old vinyl records, but on a state of the art turntable. Yes, it's a bit clicheed, but the turntable is a nice touch and it plays a big role in the climax.
Created on the drawing board of co-writers Richard Wenk and Lewis John Carlino, The Mechanic takes place in that movie world reality where the only consequences of violence that are recorded are those that matter to the film. It's as ruthless as the subject matter and gives audiences the adrenaline hit which one of the assassin's targets manages to avoid in a clever piece of plotting informed by medical knowledge.
This and a few other details add texture and there is a brief sex scene to ensure we are in no doubt about Arthur's sexuality. It's a boys' movie with a big bang finish.
Published first in the Sun-Herald
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MECHANIC, THE (MA)
CAST: Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland, Tony Goldwyn, Jeff Chase, Mini Anden, James Logan, Mark Nutter, Lara Grice
PRODUCER: Renee Besson, Robert Chartoff, William Chartoff, Avi Lerner, John Thompson, David Winkler, Irwin Winkler
DIRECTOR: Simon West
SCRIPT: Richard Wenk, Lewis John Carlino
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Eric Schmidt
EDITOR: T. G. Harrington, Todd E. Miller
MUSIC: Mark Isham
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Richard Lassalle
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 24, 2011
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.