The Mechanic

Director    Simon West
Starring    Jason Statham, Donald Sutherland, Ben Foster, Tony Goldwyn, Jeff Chase
Release    28 JAN (US) 28 JAN (UK)    Certificate 15
3 stars


2nd February 2011

Who wants to play a game? It's called 'I Spy... A Stath Cliche'. It's easy and can be played during any Jason Statham movie. Stath takes his shirt off: check. Stath has sex:check. Stath does that stone-faced scowl: got it! Stath has gun fights and remorseless punch-ups: tick! Finally, Stath blows some shit up: check and check. There's no need to get your Transporter box-set out, because you can try it with The Mechanic - the latest addition to Jason Statham's one-man army sub-genre.

Statham plays Arthur Bishop, an expert 'Mechanic' aka an assassin who specialises in clean, stealthy kills made to look like accidents - so don't ask him to MOT your car. After the death of his good friend and mentor Harry (a coasting, wheelchair-bound Donald Sutherland), Arthur begrudgingly takes his waster of a son, Steve (Ben Foster), under his wing as an apprentice. But there's revenge to be had somewhere down the line - and plenty more Statham cliche boxes to tick.

Directed by Simon 'Con Air' West, The Mechanic is an overblown, brutal, macho remake of Michael Winner's 1972 original, which starred Charles Bronson. Everything here will appeal to the average Nuts Magazine reader; sex, boobs, guns, booze, beating up sex pests and explosions. Andy Gray would love it.

Conclusive proof that tough guys don't look at explosions.

Plot-wise, it's pretty thin on the ground: hard-nosed veteran trains cocksure rookie is about the size of it. But when a bit more story is thrown into the mix - concerning Arthur's boss, betrayals and more scowling - it's quickly dispensed with in about 20 minutes, before you've even realised what's happened. Hey look over there, something blowing up! Grrrrr!

Never one to stretch his acting chops too far, The Stath trots out his bog-standard action movie persona - all stern looks and gruff requests. Arthur Bishop? Frank Martin? Chev Chelios? There really is little difference. They all fight, shoot guns, make things go bang and have perma-frowns plastered on their massive heads.

Statham's arrogant, whisky-swigging sidekick Ben Foster is a poor man's Ryan Gosling - silly beard, silly hat, silly shirt. He's the campest hitman you're ever likely to meet but he's at least capable of playing second fiddle to The Stath.

Jason's little teapot was short, stout and DEADLY.

Whilst not as braindead or silly as similar Statham franchises like The Transporter or Crank, The Mechanic has plenty of bullets left in the chamber - it's just a passable enough piece of action fare to possibly warrant a sequel. In the meantime, let's hope Simon West gets on the phone to Nicolas Cage's mullet and gets Con Air 2 off the ground.

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