Monthly Archives: February 2011

My Ten Cents On: The Mechanic

I know what most of you thought when you saw this poster, or the trailer to this film. Oh No(/Yes for some people)! Another Jason Statham movie?! No offense to fans of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Crank, plus any of his British movies but for the most part Jason Statham’s Hollywood career has set him up to become the next Jean-Claude Van Damme, which is to say his action sequences are flashy and over-the-top while spouting a fighting style that may look good but is as effective as throwing a plush toy at your attacker with the only saving grace being having a face that’s down-right bad-ass. So, in a word, yes, much offense to fans of the Transporter trilogy. These movies, along with Death Race and War (a.k.a. Rogue Assassin here in the Philippines), are some examples of Statham’s movies which are, even for the action genre, too much style over substance. That is, until he started doing movies for Millenium Films.

Millenium Films, along with Nu Image, was the company in charge of many of the action hits in the 80’s and 90’s. They signed many of the stars like Van Damme, Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Segal and many others. In recent years, they’ve seen a huge resurgence when Stallone came to them with ideas for sequels to both Rocky and Rambo, the former being an amazing and beautiful end to the franchise, and the latter being one of the most brutal movies in the entire series. So its safe for me to assert, that after close to 30 years of hits and misses, these guys know how to make action flicks.

Statham’s first foray with Millenium (or at least the most known), is when he joined up with the star-studded cast of The Expendables. This movie, along with Rambo would set the tone for the kind of gritty, in-your-face, not-so-much-pussy-CG/wires action that Millenium would come to be known for, and The Mechanic is no exception.

The Mechanic follows the story of two men. Arthur Bishop (played by Statham), an assassin for hire who is the best in the business and Steve Mckenna (played by Ben Foster), the son of Bishop’s mentor, who, after his father’s death, trains in the profession, and the series of jobs that leads them to unravel a conspiracy within their own company. It’s based on the 1972 movie of the same name starring Charles Bronson, it runs for 93 minutes, and in the next few bullet points, I’m going to tell you why you should watch it.

+ Blood and Bone Action

I can’t tell you how happy I am that people aren’t cartwheeling around, with weird camera angles in this movie. I mean, kudos to the first Matrix movie for revolutionizing the action film industry, but its negative side-effects were many. So many…

This movie has lots of blood, lots of explosions, and lots of cool action sequences. I mean, the fights aren’t too intricate, such that they look choreographed (refer to above link), but they do have a certain umph!, very solid stuff. There isn’t much in the way of wushu martal arts, but there is enough close-range firearm combat to satisfy most action junkies. Its a great change of pace from Statham’s other big-time title character action flicks.

C-c-c-combo Breaker!!

+ Cinematography

the sequences are long, which means you always know how the fights progress. Allow me to show you exaggerated examples to illustrate my point. This is a quick cut type of action sequence, taken from Quantum of Solace. And here’s a long take, “no-cut” scene taken from John Woo classic (and highly recommended by me) Hard Boiled. Its no secret that the latter is harder to pull off, and it makes the action scenes much better because you can follow it the whole way through. In the former, you may know there’s an action sequence, but can you follow every second of it? If, through some alien technology that expands the usable area of your brain, you can, can you honestly say that it was easier than Hard Boiled? Case closed.

The Mechanic’s action is easy to follow, its not cheating you out of seeing something amazing on screen, which is what action movies are about.

+ Ben Foster

This guy has a bright future, I think. He does look a bit delicate for an action role, which is why they gave him a beard, but he did show some amount of acting chops. He may not be the best up-and-comer (I’m saving that slot for Joseph Gordon-Levitt), but he did put on a good performance. I think what made his role even more interesting was because throughout the movie, he plays out as both the protagonist and the antagonist at the same time, and is the real catalyst for the plot to move forward. He played the rebellious kid pretty well, and was amazing in the only major hand-to-hand fight sequence in the movie. He clearly doesn’t know any martial arts, but that just made the fight look like a real fist fight, a lot more raw and entertaining.

– The Villain

The apparent villain in this film is played by Tony Goldwyn, you may or may not know him as the main villain in the Sixth Day, starring Ahh-nold. Simply put, he’s forgettable and he doesn’t appear threatening. They never give him any screen time to show his villainous intent, or to give him any semblance of a character. This is a huge no-no for me, as I am a fan of villains. When counting down my favorite action movies, though not the only factor, they always have an awesome villain (Hans Gruber in Die Hard, The T-1000 in Terminator 2, Both incarnations of The Joker in Batman and The Dark Knight).

He didn’t seem to be a good enough counterpoint to Jason Statham’s character, and that was a minus for me.

– The Plot

The premise was good. I really think that the outline would make a really good movie. The problem was the execution. Without getting too much into it, the movie didn’t set up the first major turning-point well enough that it felt forced, and the ending disappointed me and dragged on a bit. It was like a lone dot after an exclamation point.

My Cents Worth: 7/10

Fun movie to watch, there will definitely be some memorable scenes in this movie for you. It won’t come out feeling like just any action movie, which is what I always look for. It could have been better story-wise, but that isn’t the strength of most action movies in any case. But I will say its a fun movie to check out with friends. unless you’re all girls, in which case, maybe you should check out what else is on.

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