Jason Statham’s name is generally associated with only one type of movie: high-adrenaline action. Either as the star of "The Transporter" series, one of the action heroes in the ensemble cast of "The Expendables," or the absolute absurdity that is 2006’s "Crank;" Statham has a knack for playing roles in which he kills people for a living and has no problem dealing with gunfights or explosions. Fittingly, Statham stars in the 2011 remake of the 1972 film "The Mechanic," which originally starred ‘70s action hero Charles Bronson.
The film’s plot centers around Arthur Bishop (Statham), a professional mechanic who fixes people for a living. Renowned for his clean killing style, Bishop is often called to clean up the messes of various corporations and businesses. One day, Bishop finds that a hit has been taken out on his mentor, Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland, "Pride and Prejudice"). Forced into killing his own friend, Bishop mourns McKenna’s death.Eventually, he runs into McKenna’s son, Steve (Ben Foster, "Pandorum"), who seeks vengeance for his father’s murder. Unable to tell Steve who killed his father, Bishop decides to take Steve under his wing and train him to become an assassin.
The film then focuses on Steve’s training and first few assignments, many of which are compromised due to his rather impulsive nature. Meanwhile, Bishop is hard at work trying to figure out who called in the hit on Harry McKenna in the first place. As Bishop hunts for answers, he and Steve take on hit after hit, with Steve improving as time goes on.
While not the deepest plot in the history of film, the story manages to hold together quite nicely. That said, the opening scenes are rather boring; it is not until Steve’s introduction that the film becomes truly interesting. As mentioned, Statham is a great fit as Bishop, and Foster provides an interesting performance as Steve. There is an interesting chemistry between the two and their respective roles seem to fit them rather well.
Rounding out the cast are the head of the organization that Bishop works for, Dean Sanderson (Tony Goldwyn, "The Last House on the Left"), a corrupt businessman and murderer who serves as Steve’s first assignment, Burke (Jeff Chase, "The Spy Next Door"), and a prostitute that Bishop goes to repeatedly, Sarah (Mini Anden, "Ocean’s Twelve"). Unfortunately, while Statham and Foster’s roles are well-acted, the other characters seem rather plastic and uninteresting. In particular, Goldwyn’s role as Sanderson appears to be mostly phoned-in, and while Chase’s role as Burke is effectively creepy and disturbing, it is wholly underutilized in the grand scheme of things. Anden’s character has such little screen time that it seems rather odd that she is even credited as a main character in the first place. That said, the ensemble manages to pull together in the end to provide a satisfying performance.
One of the many complaints that people have about Statham is that he always seems to be cast as a professional assassin who kills people for a living. Although some of his recent roles were stale, Statham is nonetheless perfectly capable and deserving of the title of modern action hero. If any action movie star is capable of walking in Charles Bronson’s incredible shadow, it is certainly Statham. While his service is neither cheap nor immaculately effective, "The Mechanic" is sure to fix any problems of boredom for moviegoers.