The Mechanic (2011)

(In theatres, January 2011) Jason Statham may not be a very versatile actor, but he is very good at the one kind of role that suits him best, and he’s shown himself more than able to keep on doing what people ask of him.  This means that there is such a thing as “a Jason Statham film” even as the concept of the action hero actor has fallen off the wayside lately.  His latest, The Mechanic, is solid middle-of-the-road material for him.  Playing a seasoned assassin taking on an apprentice, Statham stretches no thespian muscle yet still manages to deliver the goods.  As the title of the film suggests, he’s icy precision in a film that seems happy to recycle familiar action-movie clichés with an unhealthy side-order of coincidence and bland cinematography.  To its credit, it doesn’t take on pretentious airs and understands the kind of thrills that the audience expects from “that kind of (Statham) movie”: This is strictly B-grade filmmaking, competent but not exhilarating.  Its bland overexposed cinematography does have a bit of an old-fashioned atmosphere, almost as if this remake was trying to deliver a film-long visual homage to its 1972 original.  Director Simon West has been inconsistent through the years, but here he doesn’t seem terribly interested in delivering anything more than the usual –although a hit in a downtown Chicago hotel does have its moments.  (Plus, there’s the “garbage shredder scene” to deliver at least one solidly unpleasant jolt.)  Otherwise, The Mechanic is strictly routine, down to the accidental airport meeting that precipitates the conclusion and the expected plot beats tied up during the epilogue.  As an action movie, it’s competent without being exceptional –exactly the kind of film that appears, doesn’t disappoint, and then sinks away forever into bargain bins.

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