Arthur Bishop [Jason Statham] is a ‘mechanic’ - an elite assassin with a unique talent for cleanly eliminating targets…and Bishop is the best in the business. But when his mentor and close friend Harry [Donald Sutherland] is murdered, Bishop is intent on exacting revenge. His mission grows complicated when Harry’s son Steve [Ben Foster] approaches him with the same vengeful goal. But while in pursuit of their ultimate mark, deceptions threaten to surface and those hired to fix problems become problems themselves.
The 1972 version of The Mechanic
is a tough-minded action film that reflects its disillusioned era. While no masterpiece, it does get points for the retro-coolness of prime-era Charles Bronson, cast as an ice-cold hit man who begins teaching the tricks of the trade to a young apprentice. So the prospect of a 2011 remake isn't especially sacrilegious, and handing the central role to 21st-century tough guy Jason Statham is a logical choice; Statham's got the moves, the voice, and the three-day stubble necessary for the role. In some fairly significant ways, though, the remake backs away from the hardness of the original and settles for a less daring approach. Director Simon West (Con Air
) manages to make even New Orleans locations seem monotonous, as he covers everything in a baked-butterscotch glaze and surrounds his antihero with the sleekest, most boring kind of modern hardware (the old skool LP turntable is a nice exception). Statham stays in his locked-down key throughout, while, as his student, Ben Foster--somewhat less jittery here than in the likes of 3:10 to Yuma
or Alpha Dog
--strides into one reckless situation after another. Playing peripheral roles as members of the hit man's shadowy network, Donald Sutherland and Tony Goldwyn successfully read their lines. The actual targets of the hits are creepy enough so that we aren't unduly troubled by Statham's line of work, and the ending falls far short of the memorable original. A take-no-prisoners approach to violence makes this seem even more like an empty exercise. --Robert Horton