Jason Statham-centric movie quiz. I have always enjoyed Statham as an action star, and even liked his attempt at more story driven work like The Bank Job. However, the quiz really opened my eyes to how few facial expressions he displays, namely a scowl and a smirk. I guess Statham’s charisma is so charming that I was willing to block out some of his flaws. Unfortunately, when it comes to his latest film, The Mechanic, Statham’s undeniable charisma is not enough to hide its many flaws.
In his latest action film, Statham plays a hit man named Arthur Bishop, who specialized in handling jobs that require a precise touch. When his mentor Harry is murdered (Donald Sutherland), Arthur is approached by Harry’s son Steve (Ben Foster) to learn the tricks of the assassin trade. Steve is determined to avenge his father’s death at all costs. As Arthur and Steve hunt down the elusive Dean (Tony Goldwyn), Harry’s former partner, secrets are revealed that threaten to destroy the duo’s partnership.
Although not all of Statham’s action films have been winners, they have a least been interesting to a certain extent. Yet, despite having a solid premise and the acting chops of Foster, The Mechanic is surprisingly dull. It is very telling when the most exciting, and energetic, aspect of the entire film arrives in the last five minutes. For a film whose running time is a scant 88 minutes The Mechanic feels extremely long as a direct result of some of the choices that director Simon West makes.
West tries to make the action feel claustrophobic, similar to the Bourne trilogy, yet he never finds that spark that makes any of the action scenes memorable. The fight scenes feel like both Statham and Foster are just going through the motions. This lack of energy is also apparent in the overall character arcs in the film. Instead of giving Foster one or two lines that accurately convey Steve’s anger and grief, West subjects the audience to two separate montages of Steve getting drunk and making bad decisions. While West may have viewed these scenes as gritty, they come off on screen as lazy and redundant.
The pairing of Jason Statham and Ben Foster should have been a match made in action heaven, yet they are stifled by Simon West’s attempt to make The Mechanic a deeper film than it really is. The Mechanic strives to be a thinking man’s action film but loses sight of all the things that make action films fun. Under different direction, The Mechanic might have been a fun romp, but sadly under West’s direction the film is surprisingly uneventful.