The Mechanic
dir Simon West
scr Richard Wenk, Lewis John Carlino
prd Rene Besson, Robert Chartoff, William Chartoff, Rob Cowan, Marcy Drogin, Avi Lerner, John Thompson, David Winkler, Irwin Winkler
with Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Tony Goldwyn, Donald Sutherland, Mini Anden, Christa Campbell, Katarzyna Wolejnio, Jeff Chase, JD Evermore, James Logan, Cedric Burton, Stuart Greer
release US/UK 28.Jan.11
11/US 1h32
The Mechanic
Going in for the kill: Satham

foster goldwyn sutherland
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The Mechanic Remade from Michael Winner's 1972 thriller, this action movie can't be bothered to get as dark and edgy as it should be. But the cast members keep us watching, even as things turn unnecessarily grisly.

Elite hitman Arthur (Statham) lives a solitary life in a New Orleans bayou with his stinking wealth and exquisite taste. But he's shocked when his boss (Goldwyn) gives him his next assignment: to kill his mentor Harry (Sutherland). Arthur is a cool professional, but now he's also wracked with guilt. So he takes Harry's wastrel son Steve (Foster) under his wing, teaching him the assassination trade and letting him practice during a few jobs. But the work gets increasingly dangerous, and soon it becomes apparent that Harry was set up. Revenge is in the air.

The blunt score-settling plot at the centre of this film leaves it feeling a lot less interesting than it could have been, because the mentor-trainee storyline between Arthur and Steve is actually gurgling with possibility, and is nicely played by Statham and especially Foster. There's a strong tension between these two unpredictable men, and their good son/bad son friendship is genuinely intriguing until it's swamped by the requirements of the plot.

What follows is a series of overwrought action set pieces and double-crosses that leave us shrugging with disinterest. No matter how slick the film is, abandoning the only thing that holds our attention is a big mistake. And there's also a point-of-view problem with the entire film, which never decides whose perspective to take. This leaves us unable to connect with the story or characters.

That said, Statham is charismatic enough to hold our attention, even when he's playing everything far too seriously. Foster stirs in his intense acting chops to create a character who's far more complex than the script lets him be. And solid support from the likes of Sutherland and Goldwyn keeps things lively and sometimes even offbeat. But by the time we endure the cacophony of the climactic action sequence, we really couldn't care less what happens to any of them.

cert 15 themes, language, strong violence, sexuality 11.Jan.11

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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall