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Movie Review: The Mechanic (R)

MV5BMjEyMjk1NjI1M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODcyNjAxNA._V1._SY317_By: Roxana Hadadi

Before you see “The Mechanic,” do some math. A ticket to the remake of the same-named 1972 flick starring “Death Wish” icon Charles Bronson will put you back about $10. A mature-themed video game, maybe something involving zombies or knights or flesh-eating knights who have somehow devolved into zombies, would put you back about $50. What’s the better value for your bloody buck? Go with the zombies.

Because seeing “The Mechanic” is really little more than gaping at a fresh flood of slick action scenes and kill shots every few minutes, effortlessly edited together into explosions and murders, and you’re not going to want to see it again. The movie stars Jason Statham, the British guy who started out in Guy Ritchie movies and has only plateaued since, and since he’s very in shape and possesses more muscles than humanly possible, we see him shirtless. He’s far too handsome for his own good, so we see a quite naked woman showing him a good time. And he’s great with a gun, so we see him be great with that gun – many of them, actually.

To be fair, the R rating is meant to keep children away, and teenagers who can stomach blood would be OK with this splattered affair. It’s just that the thrills are cold and calculated – it’s kind of a nihilist, existentialist discussion on the briefness of life, so that subtlety may be lost on most younger viewers. “The Mechanic” isn’t exactly like Statham’s other films, like “The Transporter” series, which thrived on fast cars and loose girls. Those two elements are in “The Mechanic,” too, but the film has some nuance.

It’s not a new “Citizen Kane” or something, but it will leave you thinking at the end. Is it worth numerous viewings, though? Doubtful.

Things begin with appropriate suspense: Arthur (Statham) is a professional killer, or “mechanic,” good enough at his job that he murders a drug kingpin in the movie’s first scene by hiding in his swimming pool and drowning the guy in it. He glides out the palatial home as smoothly as he found his way in, working his way back to a beautifully decorated, remote home in New Orleans, where he listens to vinyl records and stalks his prey.

Under the tutelage of longtime mentor Harry (Donald Sutherland), Arthur gets his assignments, follows the bad guys – dictators, sex offenders, etc. – and eventually kills them for a shadowy organization that is never fully described as part of some covert government branch but seems like it. His isolated lifestyle suits him, and he doesn’t mind that his only interactions are with Harry and a beautiful local prostitute named Sarah (Mini Anden). But when his boss’s boss, Dean (Tony Goldwyn), tells him his next target will be Harry, things get complicated.

Harry’s been scamming the organization, you see, and Dean can’t allow that. So he sends Arthur out to avenge the deaths of other mechanics who were supposedly killed because of Harry’s treachery – unwillingly also sending Arthur down a path that leads him to Harry’s shattered, unstable son Steve (Ben Foster) and a realization about the meaning of his own existence.

“The Mechanic” has a lot of elements that you’d expect, like the aforementioned shirtless Statham, the naked female character and the brazen gun-slinging. But the film tries to handle it with finesse, and sometimes works strangely well: Statham is fantastic as the almost emotionless mechanic who grows to understand remorse while continually keeping his guard up, and some of the action sequences, like the final chase scene, and unexpected twists (so many double crosses!) suggest a cleverness from the filmmakers that audiences should appreciate.

Most other times, though, “The Mechanic” sinks under its own cliches – too much slow-motion during fight and sex scenes, unnecessary lingering on bullet casings and women’s behinds, a shockingly gory showdown between Steve and a sexual predator. “The Mechanic” panders so hard to its teenage-boy demographic that its almost insufferable for anyone else, unless you really pay attention to those themes about life and how everything eventually ends. Then you’ll just be depressed.

Younger teens shouldn’t see the R-rated film, because it really does give you everything that deserves that distinction: serious cursing; bloody and violent murders, including one of a disabled character; gory showdowns, explicit sexual content, including a female character’s bare chest and behind; too many bullets to count. But older teens may be able to brush off the violence for the film’s intriguing-yet-saddening final musings on our transience. If “The Mechanic” has anything going for it, it’s that.


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