Boom, bam! Haven't we seen this before, better?

Ben Foster (left) is the angsty, twitchy one, and Jason Statham is his tough, terse partner in crime in "The Mechanic."
Ben Foster (left) is the angsty, twitchy one, and Jason Statham is his tough, terse partner in crime in "The Mechanic."
Posted: January 28, 2011

Nobody's asking for Mel and Danny in Lethal Weapon - and certainly not for Will and Mark in The Other Guys - but it'd be nice if Jason Statham and Ben Foster, The Mechanic's mentor/protege duo (this week's theme, see The Rite) , could crack a smile. Once.

Solemn, slick, and pretty much pointless, this anabolic remake of the 1973 Charles Bronson (and Jan-Michael Vincent) B-movie follows ace assassin Arthur Bishop (Statham) as he pulls off a series of hits that are so good they look like accidents.

He gets a target and a fat envelope of bills and then orchestrates a series of elaborate moves ending in a kill. And then he retires to his mid-century modern abode on the water near New Orleans, puts on his favorite vinyl, grabs a drink, and contemplates his existence in stylish solitude.

He has a hooker girlfriend in the French Quarter, but while she seems ready to forgo payment and make something more of the relationship, Arthur wants to keep it all business. (Their sex scene is an unintentional parody of a quick-cut naked-body-parts montage. And it's over practically before it's begun.)

So Arthur has compartmentalized his life, completely.

But all that changes when the jumpy rich kid played by Foster enters the picture. And so, like a bad guys' version of a buddy cop movie, Arthur and Steve start working together, and knocking people off together.

Director Simon West and his stunt crew and second unit team negotiate some solid, if soulless action sequences (exploding gas stations, a high-rise rooftop shootout, a garbage truck/bus/SUV kaboomer). Statham, the tough, terse Transporter star, plays it, yes, tough and terse. Which gives Foster plenty of room to go angsty and Method-y. The actor hasn't met a twitch he didn't like.

If The Mechanic is about anything, it's about trust and betrayal, guilt and redemption. But wait, it really isn't about that stuff - it's about gunplay and pricey sports cars bursting into flames while three or four cameras capture the moment. In slo-mo. Cue the cool music.


Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/onmovies/

 

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