By Malice Intended of Planet Ill
Assassins and hit men are among the most fascinating movie characters of all. Seeing a master of the dark arts ready his various tools of the trade before embarking on a carefully planned mission can be rewarding, like those sports documentaries that show athletes undergoing intensive training before competition. The audience gets to see both the preparation and the application of a skill set. While such characterization is undoubtedly founded in romanticism, it still cuts to the primal truth behind stories about professional killers. No matter how dishonorable or horrific the trade, watching a master in action can be a beautiful thing.
Jason Statham has carved out a niche for himself by playing unstoppable killing machines. Most of them come off more like hardened bar brawlers than consummate professionals. In the upcoming remake of the Charles Bronson classic The Mechanic, he plays professional assassin, Arthur Bishop. When Bishop’s close friend Harry Mckenna (Donald Sutherland) is killed, Arthur sets out the find and punish those responsible. The emotionally charged situation threatens to boil over when Harry’s son Steve (Ben Foster) gets involved. Steve wishes to join in Bishop’s mission and learn the ways of the assassin. Against his better judgment, Bishop takes the youth under his wing.
This new version of The Mechanic is directed by Simon West, known to fans mostly for the high-concept blockbuster Con-Air. While that film was hardly representative of the action genre at its best, it was popular. West has brought a similar sensibility to The Mechanic. The visuals are slick and sepia toned, having no pre tense of gritty realism whatsoever. Jason Statham films are known for there outrageous stunts and preposterous action set pieces. While The Mechanic seems rather subdued when compared to the The Transporter films, there is no shortage of outlandish set-pieces. As expected, Statham himself remains an example of stoic cockney cool.
Though fans of the Charles Bronson original may lament the eschewing of seventies grit for modern gloss, this new version of The Mechanic might just prove to be a serviceable revenge flick on its own terms. It’s doubtful that Statham will ever get to flex his considerable chops as an actor seeing as how the action hero route has proven so lucrative. Like the characters he portrays, he is very good at what he does (however silly and insubstantial it may be). While typecasting can be a pitfall of being adept in a certain area, it can also provide one with a successful career. Perhaps The Mechanic will provide a slightly more serious and believable version of the one man army archetype that has become Statham’s stock in trade.