• Mechanic, The



    Released by: Sony
    Released on: 5/17/2011
    Director: Simon West
    Cast: Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland
    Year: 2011
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    The Movie:

    It’s hard to improve on a Charles Bronson movie; impossible maybe, so you’ve got to take a remake of a classic like The Mechanic with the proverbial grain of salt. That said, Simon West’s 2011 remake of Michael Winner’s 1972 Charles Bronson/Jan Michael Vincent film is, if nothing else, some fun disposable entertainment.

    In this new version, Jason Statham plays Arthur Bishop, a ‘mechanic’ who fixes problems for high paying clients – in short, he’s one of the world’s top hit men, a paid assassin if you will. When we meet him, he’s just made a daring escape from a South American compound and returned to his home in Louisianna to have sex with a hot chick who hangs around a local bar. Once that’s out of the way with, he heads off to meet his boss, Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland), a wheelchair bound man who tells him about his problem son, Steve (Ben Foster). Things are going okay for Arthur after the meeting until he gets a call from Harry’s boss, the boss of all bosses, telling Arthur that his next assignment has come in and that Harry is the target. Harry and Arthur go back a long way and are good friends but the evidence is stacked against Harry and it looks like he betrayed the organization for a bunch of cold, hard cash.

    Conflicted as to what to do, Arthur winds up taking the job and putting a few bullets through Harry, cleverly making the murder look like a carjacking. But wouldn’t you know it, soon Harry’s kid is hanging around, knowing full well what it is that Arthur does and wanting in on a piece of the action for himself. Arthur, out of obligation to the good friend he just killed, takes Steve under his wing and trains him to be a hit man.Together they take on a few jobs and Steve proves a quick learner, but soon the truth about Harry’s death starts to get in the way.

    While this film lacks the sophistication and tension of the original, it does offer up quite a bit more action, though this comes at the cost of originality and brains. You won’t have any trouble whatsoever figuring out where this is going or even how it’s going to get there, the signs are all there and they’re plenty easy to read. So why bother? Well, it’s fun. Statham plays the same sort of character we’ve seen him play countless times before, a nigh unstoppable tough guy who is as cool as he is a hit with the ladies, and if he’s typecast in roles like this these days, at least he plays them well. His interaction with Foster may be played more for the cool factor than the realism factor, they get a long a little too well and Foster’s character proves to be a little too adapt at learning the tricks of Arthur’s trade, but they make for a likeable enough due. Donald Sutherland is woefully under used here but he’s as good as always when he does get some screen time in the first twenty minutes or so of the movie.

    If it’s all an exercise in style over substance and bullets over brains at least it delivers some memorable action set pieces and enough explosions and violence to help you look past the predictability of the script. Nobody’s trying to reinvent the wheel here, but if you turn off your brain and crack open a cold one before you put this puppy in your player, you’re bound to have a good time with it.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Mechanic looks pretty damn impressive in this AVC encoded 2.40.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer from Sony. Detail is great as is texture and while color reproduction leans towards the hot side of things from time to time, that was obviously a stylistic choice and is not a flaw in the encoding. Grain is present as it should be but there are no problems with print damage, while the strong encoding job means there are no problems with compression artifacts, edge enhancement or obnoxious digital scrubbing. Nothing to complain about here, really, the movie looks great.

    So too does The Mechanic sound great. The English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix kicks all kinds of ass, particularly during the action and shoot out scenes. Bass response is tight, strong and powerful without burying the performers while dialogue remains smooth and easy to follow. The Bond-esque score has enough punch to it to help build suspense while the levels are well balanced from start to finish. Optional subtitles are provided in English and Spanish.

    Sadly, extras are fairly slim on this release, though it’s hardly barebones. Sony has included eleven minutes worth of extended and deleted scenes, most of which are fairly inconsequential but worth watching once. Also found here is an eight minute featurette entitled The Tools Of The Trade: Inside The Action, which features your basic cast and crew interviews and which plays more like an EPK than anything else. Previews for a few other Sony Blu-ray titles are included, as are animated menus and chapter stops and the disc is Blu-ray Live enabled and also features Sony’s Movie IQ functionality if that’s your bag. All of the extras are presented in high definition.

    TheFinal Word:

    While it doesn’t improve on the original in any way at all, this remake of The Mechanic is at least entertaining enough. Statham does his thing the only way he seems to know how but the part is a good fit for him and Ben Foster’ssupporting effort is solid. Sony’s Blu-ray looks and sounds awesome but wimps out on the extras – regardless, if you liked the movie or consider yourself part of the Cult of Statham, you could certainly do a lot worse than this one. Casually recommended.

    Click on the images below for full size Blu-ray screen caps!

















    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      I don't like Ben Foster....at all....but this wasn't a bad flick. if i hadn't seen the Bronson/JMV flick prior, it might've been a lot better. Statham is awesome, don't care what anyone says about him. And a Sutherland cameo is never a bad thing.