Sunday, August 25, 2013

In short: The Mechanic (2011)

There's nothing new in the world of movies about professional killers, and not just because Simon West's film is a remake of Michael Winner's 1972 Charles Bronson outing, the one Michael Winner film I absolutely love. There's really no need to go into plot details, because everything about The Mechanic's plot is obvious once you've heard the words "sympathetic professional killer takes in the son of his best friend after he assassinated said friend".

The film's problem is not so much that it doesn't have anything new or interesting to say, it's that it doesn't have anything to say at all. Without the legions of films about sort of likeable professional killers that have produced certain expectations towards what these people are about, The Mechanic would be totally devoid of anything, for it isn't building on the movies that came before it so much as it is expecting the films that came before to do all its work for it.

The characterisation is predictably bland, the acting on the okay side (Statham is fully inside his comfort zone of scowling, and then scowling some more, and Foster wears a cap), but there's just no chemistry at all between the two leads when they should work off one another like the leads in a romantic comedy.

The script earns itself additional minus points by going the easy way when trying to make a professional killer sympathetic, so everyone Statham and Foster kill basically eats babies for breakfast. The script clearly works from the true assumption that nobody involved behind or in front of the camera would be capable enough to make a professional killer who just kills people for money still sympathetic. This sort of thing is really the sound of a scriptwriter shouting "I'm not all that good at that whole writing thing", which is probably true, too.

The action scenes are okay, filmed in West's usual, technically adept yet somewhat soulless style that never gets my adrenaline glands pumping because its all-pervading competence leaves no room for the good stuff. You know, like imagination, the poetry of bodies in motion, the plain ugliness of violence, or really anything that recognizes that explosions are supposed to be emotional too.

Of course, having said all this, I also have to admit that The Mechanic is perfectly watchable. On the other hand, a film not being actively painful to watch isn't exactly much of a recommendation.

No comments: