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Posts Tagged ‘The Mechanic’
If angst is your thing, the new Jason Statham remake of the 1986 Burt Reynolds’ thriller “Heat,” may be for you. Sure, he also kills a man with a spoon, but unlike other fast-moving movies in Statham’s repertoire, here most the action takes place in his head, behind dead eyes.
Statham is Nick Wild, an Elmore Leonard-esque character working as a bodyguard/thug-for-hire in Las Vegas. He is the trademarked Statham “troubled loner” character, a man with a murky past who “doesn’t rest his head on the same pillow twice.” When his friend, call girl Holly (Dominik García-Lorido) is attacked by some very bad people at the Golden Nugget—“Tough place,” says Nick, “even the showgirls can rip a phonebook in half.”—and left for dead Nick is drawn into a dangerous game of revenge. Job done he may finally be able to leave Vegas for good, but bad luck and bad guys just might get in the way.
“Wild Card” could easily have been retitled “The Art of the Montage.” Take out the slow motion, the montages and the slow motion montages and you’d be looking at a twenty minute running time. Director Simon West, who worked with Statham on “The Expendables 2” and “The Mechanic,” never met a pastiche he didn’t love.
They slow down the action, although to be fair, there isn’t much action to hold back. This is a study of obsession, of gambling, of putting it all on the line, but most of all it is a study of Statham making angsty faces while ruminating on the “creeping virus” of Las Vegas. He’s broody and only pushed into action a couple of times during the 92 minute running time. In those scenes we get what we pay for—Statham getting medieval on bad guys—the rest of the time we get an insider’s up-close-and-personal look at what Statham looks like when he’s sleepy.
“Wild Card” could have been an interesting look at the downside of Las Vegas life. Or it could have been a kick-butt action movie. As it is, it is neither.
Jason Statham isn’t so much an actor as he is a brand. When you go to McDonald’s you know you can expect the two all beef patties, special sauce and the sesame seed bun to taste the same whether you’re in Toronto or Hong Kong. It’s that kind of brand management that has made Statham a star. You know what to expect from his movies—rippling abs, some high kicking action, his trademarked facial stubble and loads of explosions. It’s a simple formula but one that works for his fans. Perhaps the advertising slogan for his new film, “The Mechanic,” should be “New, But Not Improved.”
This time around Statham plays Arthur Bishop, a highly trained and highly dangerous hit man. “Pulling a trigger is easy,” he says in his distinctive rumble, “the best jobs are the ones where no one even knows you where there.” Like the character he plays in “The Transporter” movies, he’s detached, precise and no nonsense. When his mentor and friend Harry (Donald Sutherland) is killed Arthur turns mentor for Harry’s troubled son (Ben Foster), teaching him his deadly trade.
What Statham lacks in range he makes up for in muscle tone. His well crafted on-screen persona is equal parts stoic masculinity and lithe athletic ability. He’s Charles Bronson (who starred in the original “The Mechanic” in 1972) with better moves, a man of action and few words in the mold of Clint Eastwood, if Clint had a better roundhouse kick. In “The Mechanic,” his 27th film since 1998 (and he has at least five more in the pipeline), he doesn’t do anything we haven’t seen him do before, but no matter, he simply does the things we expect him to do. That’s what brands do, and as movie brands go these days he’s about as reliable as it gets.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s brand, for example, tries to tread similar ground, but every now and again veers off course with a kid’s flick or comedy, but not Statham. “The Mechanic” and his other films are so true to brand they’re almost interchangeable. Only the character names, and, occasionally the facial expressions, change.
Is “The Mechanic” a good movie? If you liked “The Transporter,” then yes, you’ll like “The Mechanic.” If not, then perhaps the Statham brand is not for you.
Hollywood is so into recycling you’d think Al Gore was running a studio and green-lighting movies. This year alone we’ve seen reimaginings, reboots and redos galore, from Straw Dogs and Footloose to Conan the Barbarian and The Mechanic.
It seems Tinseltown never met an idea it couldn’t endlessly recycle.
This is particularly true in the horror genre. In the last 12 months, Colin Farrell clipped on Chris Sarandon’s used fangs in a remake of Fright Night, and this weekend, The Thing is, according to IMDB, “a prequel to a remake of an adaptation of the novella Who Goes There?” Whatever it is, original it’s not.
Not that all original horror films are better than their remakes. David Cronenberg’s dark vision enhanced the story of The Fly, delivering the real scares that the campy 1958 version lacked, and 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers is far creepier than its cinematic predecessor.
The Blob, the tale of what happens when germ warfare goes awry, has been made a couple of times.
The original is an unintentionally funny flick with more giggles than gore, but it inspired a sequel, a remake and, if the rumours are true, a bloody revamp by horror maestro Rob Zombie.
I have a soft spot for the low-budget charm of the 1958 version, although the 1988 reboot has a smarter-than-it-needs-to-be script co-written by Frank Darabont and a cool tagline — “Scream now! while you can still breathe!”
Count Dracula is one of the most portrayed characters on the big screen, having appeared in more horror films than any other famous monster of filmland. Eighty years after he first portrayed the vampire in the 1931 film Dracula, Bela Lugosi is still the most famous blood sucker of them all, although for my money, two British actors — Gary Oldham in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Christopher Lee in Horror of Dracula — are tip-top Transylvanians.
Unlike his work in Scream, Wes Craven’s early films didn’t have any of the self-depreciating humour to go along with the scares.
His first movies were brutal, bloody and grim, usually all at once. Recent remakes of The Last House on the Left — rated R for “sadistic violence” — and The Hills Have Eyes — “The lucky ones die first!”— don’t have quite the impact of the Vietnam-era originals but still require a strong stomach.