Gun made out of guns! GUN MADE OUT OF GUNS!
  • Gun made out of guns! GUN MADE OUT OF GUNS!
The Mechanic didn't screen for critics, but I'm such a Jason Statham nerd that I had to see it on opening weekend anyway. And it doesn't let Statham-heads down: Our man is in ur-Statham-movie mode here, playing a hitman who is coolly professional, weirdly neat and tidy, and undone by a fatal flaw. If you think you're going to hate this movie—if you dislike explicit violence, for example, or you can't forgive stupid action movie twists that have sent out engraved invitations a week in advance—you should avoid it. But if you're a Statham fan, or you're looking for an hour and a half of smarmy, dumb fun, The Mechanic will tide you over for a while.

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Part of The Mechanic's charm is that almost no thought is put toward the plot. (It's a remake of a Charles Bronson movie, but that doesn't really matter; it won't make Bronson fans happy, and it won't make Statham fans curious for the original.) Statham murders an old friend and business associate (Donald Sutherland, doing as best he can with what little he's got) and then takes his friend's fuckup son (Ben Foster) on as a hitman apprentice. Of course, he doesn't tell the fuckup about killing his dad because we need that plot point for later. It's directed by Con Air's Simon West with very little Bruckheimer pop-candy gloss, and, like seemingly every dumb action movie from the last three years, it's set in a post-Katrina New Orleans because, um, social justice!

But there are enough unnecessary flourishes here to make the ride interesting. Statham's victims are interesting in that they seem to have a life that exists outside the frames of the film, especially a morbidly obese television preacher whose unrepentant sleaze is a squirmy joy. Foster's young, thrill-seeking sociopath is an interesting foil for Statham's clean-cut killer. He shares a wiry kineticism with Statham, but he's more of a messy, chaotic emotional figure; I hope to see more of these kinds of low-budget action romps with Foster in the driver's seat. Everything dissolves into a chess match between idiots, but it's entertaining enough for a January release. On the Statham scale, The Mechanic ranks way above Transporter 3 but below the Crank films in terms of sheer entertainment value.

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