THE MECHANIC: Brain Off; Eyes Roll

by Jeff Beck, Guest Film Critic
THE MECHANIC: Brain Off; Eyes Roll

January is nearly over, but there are still a few studio dumps left to see, so here we have “The Mechanic,” the latest action film starring Jason Statham. This is the kind of movie where you can pretty much figure out whether or not you’re going to enjoy it based on the first ten minutes or so of the film. For many, this will mean the chance to turn your brain off and watch the few senseless action scenes the film has to offer. For others, the lacking ingredients will merely make you roll your eyes.


Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) is what’s known as a “mechanic” or hitman. He works for a mysterious organization that gives him assignments to carry out, such as the job we see him on in the opening scenes where he drowns someone in a swimming pool while making it look like an accident. His employer, Dean (Tony Goldwyn), gives him an assignment that is very troubling to him. He asks Arthur to kill his longtime mentor, Harry (Donald Sutherland), because he supposedly turned on them and got several agents killed.


After following through with the mission, Arthur is confronted by Harry’s son, Steve (Ben Foster), who thinks his father was killed in a carjacking. Steve decides to take justice into his own hands and attempts to kill a carjacker on the street, but Arthur stops him and decides to take him under his wing. He teaches him everything he knows about the art of being a hitman, bringing him on missions and even allowing Steve to carry one out by himself. Everything is going well, that is, until Arthur discovers something mysterious about his mission involving Harry, something that shows he wasn’t exactly told the truth.


This is a film that never gives you a single reason to care about the story or any of the characters. Starting with the story, it is laid out so perfectly in front of you that you can see every little detail that has to happen well in advance. In fact, if you have an IQ of more than five, you’ll be able to figure out the “twist” in the first 15 minutes of the film. That’s how painfully obvious the direction of the film is.


Then there’s the fact that the entire second act served little to no purpose. The plot of the film is set up in the first act, where we see exactly what needs to happen, but instead of getting to the point, the second act meanders with Arthur teaching Steve to become a hitman, even though he has absolutely no reason to do this whatsoever. It comes off as a silly deterrent in order to give Steve something else to do instead of becoming a vigilante.


The structure of the story is the only reason this section is here. The writers needed Steve around for the third act to create more tension for the inevitable scene where Steve figures out what Arthur did, and what easier way for there to seem like they’re a match for each other than to have Arthur teach Steve everything he knows? As if there wasn’t enough confrontation already in the third act.


Then there’s the main character himself. Arthur is obviously a really smart guy when it comes to getting to his targets, executing them, and getting out, but he’s rather oblivious when it comes to trusting his friends. He gets the mission to kill Harry from his employer, someone whom he apparently doesn’t know all that well. Now keep in mind that Harry was his mentor and best friend for several years, so there’s an obvious connection of trust between them, and yet, Arthur takes this mission pretty much without hesitation (aside from asking if it was a mistake). It really makes you want to scream at Arthur for how ignorant he is for trusting someone he doesn’t know all that well over his friend and mentor of many years.


If these kinds of details don’t bother you much, then you might be able to get through this movie without sighing over and over. However, if you’re looking for substance, character development, and an engaging storyline, you’ll be sadly disappointed as this film is seriously lacking in all three of those areas. 2/4 stars.