Kevin: Jason Statham returns in the new sequel to “The Mechanic.” Don’t remember “The Mechanic”? Don’t worry, most people don’t either, but they should at least be aware that it was based on a much better Charles Bronson-Jan Michael Vincent thriller from the 1970s. I’ve seen the Jason Statham version once, and all I can remember is that Ben Foster somehow had the best fight scene in the movie, and that at one point Statham drowns a drug lord in a pool and then moves the guy’s arms “Weekend at Bernie’s”-style to fool his bodyguards into thinking he’s still alive and swimming.
So yeah, this is normally a movie that would have been completely forgotten, except there’s this new country on the scene called China that seems to really like these kinds of films (http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-china-box-office-20161025-snap-story.html), and thus nearly six years later we have a follow-up, “The Mechanic: Resurrection.” This continuation picks up with Statham’s Arthur Bishop laying low in Rio de Janeiro, and it’s a sign of this originality to come that the very first shot of the film is the giant Jesus status that is as synonymous with Brazil as child gangs, rampant poverty, Zika, and Olympic pool water that turns athletes’ hair green.
Thank god Statham has no hair, but he is good at swimming (seriously, he does so much swimming in this movie that I forgot why the hell he’s called “The Mechanic,” although it doesn’t matter since no one ever actually calls him “The Mechanic” anyway). More importantly I guess, he’s super good at killing people. Although the movie starts strong with a well-choreographed restaurant fight sequence within the first five minutes, it then devolves into nearly 30 minutes of Statham and Jessica Alba first pretending to fall in love and then actually falling in love, and it’s hard to tell the difference since neither of them can convincingly convey normal human emotions of any kind. Seriously, watching these two obviously stiff and humorless actors try to flirt and giggle made me think I had switched the channel to “Westworld” for a bit.
Eventually the plot requires Alba to get kidnapped and Statham to get forced into committing three murders for a nefarious guy named Crain. At this point the movie finally finds somewhat of a pulse, as Statham starts killing a lot of guys, spends a weirdly large amount of time in wetsuits, and eventually meets up with a soul-patch-sporting Tommy Lee Jones, who may not even remember he was in this movie. So having likely skipped this in theaters on account of not living in China, you may wonder if this is worth catching up with on DVD/iTunes/OnDemand/Redbox etc. Well I’ll make it easy for you:
Could I skip it?: As much as I hate to say this about the kind of rare, star-driven R-rated action movie we don’t get a lot of nowadays, probably so. It takes a while for this thing to get going, you could not care less about seeing the two leads get reunited, and while the action is clearly shot and easy to follow, it doesn’t get the blood flowing in the same way as any shootout in “John Wick,” a film this director obviously watched beforehand. During the climax, Statham jabs a rifle into a guy’s throat and then blows up another dude by tossing him and a grenade into a hot tub, and yet all I could think about was what I was going to get my grandmother for Christmas.
Should I rent it?: Sure, why the hell not. It’s not great but it’s not boring. Statham does shoot a lot of guys in the head, it’s filmed on location in exotic spots like Brazil, Thailand, Australia, and … er, Bulgaria, and it’s barely over 90 minutes. Basically it’s a good movie to watch when your significant other has gone to bed and there’s nothing else to rent besides “Pete’s Dragon” and “The BFG.” Plus, I find Jason Statham’s pathological need to present himself as the world’s toughest and sexiest badass in every one of his movies more entertaining and believable than the similar attempts by another bald action star named Vin Diesel.
Should I buy it?: Are you looking for a stocking stuffer for a relative you are indifferent to? Then yes. Are you the kind of Jason Statham completist that you own copies of “Parker” and “Wild Card”? Also yes. Otherwise, no.
How bad is Jessica Alba in this?: I had high hopes but there’s probably no way she can again reach the heights of her legendarily awful performance in “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.” She spends most of the movie captured, but occasionally—I guess to claim in interviews that her character was “badass” and “empowered”—she hits a bad guy in the balls or does some jiu-jitsu move that the average humanitarian aid worker would not know. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that her character is helping to teach orphans in the Philippines or some shit, while also sporting perfect hair and even more perfectly distressed designer jeans. I can see why this role was important enough for her to take time away from giving skin cancer to actual children in America: http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkroll/2015/08/03/the-failure-of-jessica-albas-honest-company-sunscreen-explained/#8710ae9796e4
Final thought: While escaping after the restaurant fight early in the film, Statham jumps off a cable car on to a hang glider that just happened to be passing right under him. The person steering the hang glider appears to be a young attractive woman, so as someone who watched enough Roger Moore “James Bond” movies back in the day, I assumed when the screen faded to black that the next scene would be the two of them in bed, drinking post-coital champagne and possibly using her deployed parachute for sheets. Nope, we never see her again, and folks, these are the kinds of cinematic choices that separate the mediocre movies from the works of art.
Update – CJ Adds His Two Cents:
CJ: I spent the weekend indoors because it was cold and raining and it still took me three sittings to get through this. Kevin, you mentioned some of the nice locales the movie visited, and it’s true, there are some great ocean-view shots that made me want to whisk myself away to a sun-drenched beach and wuss out on talking to girls. But you forgot the most visited locale: the green screen. Or more specifically, the Roland Emmerich-level amount of green screen in this.
I couldn’t get past it. I understand when it’s something a little tougher, like an alien world, or even a volcano, but some random eatery? We’ve definitely become too reliant on green screen to substitute for just walking down the street and asking the owner of a rooftop bar, “Hey can we shoot this movie here one night for five grand? It’s not a porn. But we could do that too for another five.” It’s also hard to watch when the sun on the screen is clearly in the rear, yet the on-set lighting is in front of our actors.
Other than that it looked great.
I was super confused by the Statham-Alba relationship. Maybe it was just me, but halfway through their initial meeting I thought maybe they already knew each other. Not to mention, their whole romance seemed to be based on this:
Alba: Hey, you like dancing?
Alba: RAVAGE ME!
This brings me to Alba: the only thing she is worse at than acting is voice recording. Did you notice the nearly two-minute stretch where she clearly had to re-record her lines and was unable to match up her words to her own mouth? At first, I swear, I thought my Blu-Ray player skipped so I’d rewind the scene to see if all the dialogue was missed in the same order. It was!
The main bulk of the movie involves Bishop having to kill three guys for Crain, but make them look like accidents. These were all stupid. Here is a quick breakdown of what happened:
- Kill #1: Warlord named Krill. Bishop ingratiates himself by killing someone already trying to kill Krill. His response is to immediately offer Bishop a job. This guy is a terrible warlord, it’s no surprise he is in prison and not warlording. Also, right after Bishop saves Krill, doesn’t Krill ask him how he knew that guy was coming for him, and Bishop improvised with something like, “Eh, someone’s always trying to kill someone”? I swear that’s what happened. Anyways, Bishop’s plan to make it look like an accident is perfectly executed by choking him and forcing him to swallow poison.
- Kill #2: Australian underage trafficker. Bishop kills him by climbing up a skyscraper and drilling one hole in the bottom of the guy’s pool, inserting a device that explodes, but is also self-contained enough to break the glass but only enough so that it doesn’t immediately crack, but THEN immediately cracks while Bishop swings down to another floor. A whirlpool ensues and the guy falls through down to his death. Just to be clear, Bishop went to this wildly ambitious plan right after going, “I dunno, choke him and pour some shit down his throat” with the previous guy.
- Kill #3: Tommy Lee Jones, arms dealer/old EDM DJ. First off I’d like to think this is how Samuel Gerard responded after fucking up both Harrison Ford’s and Wesley Snipes’ cases and wasting millions in taxpayer money to chase ultimately innocent people. Bishop chooses to let Jones live, I assume because Tommy had it in his contract he doesn’t die and the screenwriter said, “That wouldn’t make sen … oh who gives a fuck, sure.”
Here’s my question: Why is Crain a bad guy for wanting these three dead? It’s a warlord, underage human trafficker, and weapons dealer. We want these guys dead too, right?
I almost forgot! Bishop’s disguise in the first kill is to perfectly pencil a set of die onto his cheek BEFORE he gets himself into prison. In Malaysia. Where it’s really hot. And then he fights guys and rubs up on them. His entire plan is based on “don’t sweat or otherwise have your face touched.”
Also, the orphans’ artwork looked like shit.
Kevin: I agree on all your points but would just like to go back to that first kill again. After killing the attempted assassin, Statham gets invited back to the warlord’s room but says he doesn’t want his bodyguards to come along because “he doesn’t like crowds” or something like that. The warlord has known this guy for like 2 minutes but says yes. Then after killing the guy Statham escape the prison by blowing up a wall and diving into the ocean. So to recap, guy no one has seen in the prison before is left alone with the warlord, five minutes later the warlord is dead, this guy then stages an elaborate escape, and everyone is apparently like, “Well that was a weird bunch of coincidences, but yeah I guess the warlord’s death was a complete accident, case closed.”
Update – Mike Adds His Two Cents (and gets really confused in the process):
Mike: I’m basing this solely on the trailer and nothing else as I have not seen the movie:
- I have an issue with movies where the main evil entity requires someone with far less resources and ability to do their dirty work.“You have 36 hours to eliminate all the targets on this list.” How come the hero never says, “Hey, you’re the one with the private army and all the connections in the universe between the press and the politicians you own. On top of that you tracked me down and kidnapped me! ME, the best assassin on Earth, and you caught me! So please explain to me why you can’t handle this list yourselves?!!??!?!!?!”
- I was glad to see that Arthur Bishop’s hand healed up nicely after he purposely put a knife through it in “The Mechanic (Part 1)” in order to disarm an assailant. Let me repeat that in case you missed it. In order to keep an assailant from cutting him, Arthur Bishop used his own hand to take the blow.
- From the looks of the trailer, Bishop has rented a helicopter so that he can spy on a potential hit who seems to live atop a skyscraper and often swims in a private pool which hangs off his balcony. His brilliant plan to make this death seem like an accident is to scale the building, drill a hole in what I’m sure is no less than 18 inches of solid Plexiglas, insert a bomb, detonate the bottom of the pool just in time to swing out of the way (AND STILL NOT BE SEEN BY ANYONE!), so that the water drains out and sends the mark through the hole like a turd in a gigantic toilet bowl. Now, I’m no mechanic, in fact I can’t even change my own oil (hahaha, good one Mikey!), but something tells me that it would be more believable if this guy slipped in the shower and cracked his head on the Egyptian marble. Just a thought!
That’s all I got. Wait, one more thing, I’d still like to sleep with Jessica Alba. The end.
Kevin: Good points Mike except I should point out that clip of Statham was actually from “Parker” and not “The Mechanic.”
Mike: Oh no! I thought they were the same movie!
Jason Statham doesn’t make it easy to tell his movies apart. He’s always wearing the same clothes, rocking the same amount of facial hair (and bald hairstyle), uses the same accent, and employees the same fighting style. It’s not like that one movie where he played a total geek who couldn’t score any pussy because he was so nerdy, remember that one? Oh wait, that doesn’t exist.
Kevin: What the hell are you talking about Mike? In “Parker” he plays a bald, humorless tough guy named Parker, and in “The Mechanic” he plays a bald, humorless tough guy named Bishop. They have two totally different names, he’s a fucking artistic chameleon as far as I’m concerned!
CJ: B and P are different letters that sound nothing alike. Mike, you fucking moron!
Anthony: Wait a minute. “The Mechanic: Resurrection” is an action movie? Based on the poster I thought it was about a high-tech pool cleaner. They really should do more marketing research on stuff like that, because I know several people that saw it and were greatly disappointed with the subject matter and scope of the plot.
CJ: Anthony, we know “some people” is code for “you.” Just admit the poster fooled YOU!
Anthony: What can I say, I am very interested in pool maintenance.