by Rick Grant
The trend towards substandard remakes continues with this mediocre do-over of a 1972 Charles Bronson movie. Directed by Simon West and starring Jason Statham as an expert “mechanic” a.k.a. hitman, Arthur Bishop. He works “assignments” for a shadowy and corrupt entrepreneur, Dean (Tony Goldwyn).
Yeah, there is always someone who needs killing and Bishop obliges for big paydays. He’s ex-special forces and lives in modern stilt house on the Louisiana bayou, accessible only by boat.
When Bishop gets his assignment, he studies the target and looks for weaknesses. Once he’s on the hunt, the target is as good as dead. His mentor, Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland) is Bishop’s only friend. They meet at a coffee shop in a small bayou town.
Harry is concerned about his ne’er-do-well son Steve (Ben Foster) who is into meth and other unsavory activities like selling guns. Bishop promises to keep an eye on him for his old friend.
Nowhere is where the script goes south. Dean claims that he and Bishop were betrayed by Harry who had his last team killed including an old buddy of Bishop. Dean gives Bishop a contract on Harry.
Why does Bishop trust Dean’s word and why doesn’t he check it out? Instead he takes Dean’s assignment to take out Harry–kill his best friend. This just doesn’t pass the sniff test. Bishop would never trust Dean’s word on its face value.
So, Bishop does the job and calls Steve, Harry’s son. He’s feeling guilty for killing his dad, and wants to offer Steve an apprenticeship as his partner. Steve is a fast study and already knows how to take care of himself and knows his weapons. But, he’s too brazen and needs to learn stealth and subtlety.
Now Bishop and Steve are a deadly duo armed with an arsenal of military styled weapons. Bishop and Steve are determined to bring down Dean’s well oiled machine of hired guns.
Granted Statham is a striking presence on the screen with his intense eyes and chiseled physique. His advanced military techniques of killing and maiming are impressive. Steve is also a deadly asset. However, Steve’s motivation comes from rage which is difficult to control.
When Steve is tasked with taking out a target who is six foot eight and over 200 pounds, he’s given a poison to slip into his target’s drink. To Steve, this is too easy. When the time comes to kill this target, Steve opts to strangle this powerful man. A battle royal ensues. Miraculously, Steve emerges as the winner. Steve is a psychopath who enjoys pain and violence.
In contrast, Bishop likes to do the job before anyone knows he’s there and get out clean. But the strange friendship between Bishop and Steve eases Bishop’s guilt at being tricked into killing Steve’s father.
In other words, Bishop is an artist at his craft. Steve is an explosion of rage and killing power. Ah yes, sooner of later the association is bound to backfire.
The movie’s biggest flaw is the story suffered to make room for the stunts, explosions, and gun gags. Statham and Foster did their part to upgrade the weak script. But it wasn’t enough to make the movie worth the price of admission.
The Mechanic Movie Review
by Rick Grant