Thursday, February 10, 2011
The Mechanic – 93 min - R
So, here is the rundown on The Mechanic. Jason Statham plays Arthur Bishop, a hit man. He is good at his job. He will make a hit look just as you need it – like an accident if necessary. He is a company man, and is methodical in his planning. He will take weeks of scouting and research to pull of the perfect hit. He receives a contract on his friend Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland), also a company man who has turned on the company. Arthur does what he does best and takes him out by making it look like a carjacking gone bad. Harry has a son Steve (Ben Foster), who Arthur feels responsible for so he takes him under his wing to teach him how to be a hit man. During their journey they find out that the person who had Harry killed (Dean, played by Tony Goldwyn) was the one who was really the bad guy. Steve and Arthur go after him and exact revenge. Along the way Steve finds out that Arthur killed his dad and the rest is… ah well you should be able to make out the end.
Man, I really love Statham’s work. He does a wonderful job on most of his films and this one he did well in. I think the story was poor. I really had a hard time getting onto this movie. First off, let’s look at the contradiction in his character: he is a cold blooded methodical killer who shoots his friend on an order, and then he grows a conscience and decides to look after Harry’s son? Ok, fine, I can overlook that, and it might make for a good story. His pupil starts learning and starts to take a hand in some of the jobs, he gets his first hit. It’s all set up by Arthur he has spent months priming this hit to make it as smooth and easy as possible. Steve decides that instead of taking out the target as Arthur instructs: easy, clean, efficient -- it would be better to strangle the target. Now let’s review here, Steve, the rookie hit man out on his first mission, is about 150 lbs soaking wet and stand a full 5 feet 2 inches. The target is 245pounds 6 feet 4 inches and a professional hit man from a rival company. This is a plan that looks good on paper. No, wait that plan doesn’t even look good on paper. What is he thinking? Steve finally overpowers his target, but not without leaving a considerable amount of DNA evidence in the room. Translation: Steve had the snot beat out of him. Steve did kill the target so I guess that miracles do happen. So when he gets back to Arthur all he has for Steve some steely glances and a first aid kit. Months of planning down the drain, and nothing is said about it. I am sorry. Arthur should have put a bullet in his brain -- the boy is damaged and a liability. This is where I lost interest.
From a technical standpoint I am going to say that these two gaffes were ones that really only me and my brother would catch, let me know if you spotted these as well. They have a long montage of what I am guessing is training , Arthur and Steve are out shooting and we see targets being hit and the use of firearms. There are lots of rounds, a lot of smoke and some really tedious artsy shots. There’s one slow motion shot of a round ejecting from the chamber where the slow motion really makes the shot stand out -- especially when the round flips toward the camera and you can see the crimped front of the blank that they used in that shot. REALLY!?!?! You had shots being filmed at the rage to get the close ups of the targets getting holes, you could not turn the camera and get a few shots of real rounds? The next oops moment was when Arthur is calling the big bad guy’s office and lets him know he is coming for him. It‘s an “I am in the building” moment. The bad guy looks down at the phone and it says conference room E. We cut away to Arthur down the switch box room with a handset he has connected on the copper wire. See, modern phones that are all digital lines, you can’t connect via copper wire. You may not have picked up on those issues, until I pointed them out. Sorry for spoiling it if you did not see them.
The style of the film had very much a 70’s movie feel in its cinematography. The way the shots were set up and even the quality of the film, it seemed to be grittier or rough. Simon West directed this film and also brought us Con Air, Laura Croft Tomb Raider, and The General’s Daughter. Con Air was a much better film. Was “The Mechanic” a bad film? Yes. When I see your mistakes in the first viewing, it means that I am not caught up enough in the film. The tempo was slow to start with but got its action move groove going toward the end. One review said “check” your brain at the door and enjoy this film. I am sorry, even brainless I don’t think I would enjoy this film.
What do you think? Does an action movie just need lots of fighting, deaths and explosions to be good or do you look for a good story to bring these visual elements together? Or better yet what action movies had a really good story to exemplify what a good action movie could be?