Day 67: The Man and The Defense of the Dark Arts

The title is an especially cheeky homage to a fellow blogger friend but it is also a reminder of what really is the root of Mechanic: Resurrection. The ‘mechanic’ is the one you call when you have a particularly big problem to fix and the mark of a good ‘mechanic’ is to leave none at all once the job is done. It is a clever misnomer for the knife in the dark, the skilled silent killer.

Bronson Mechanic.jpeg

No one asked for a remake of the original Charles Bronson film. It wasn’t particularly successful to warrant a guaranteed interest nor was it particularly terrible that unsatisfied fans were waiting for a better approach. For the most part the original Mechanic had a captivating enough premise that was done justice by Bronson’s honest performance but ultimately marred by uninspired boring action sequences and the director’s oversight in developing Bronson’s character relationships.

If the remake were to fare any better it would have to recapture the gravitas of the main protagonist Arthur Bishop, develop more convincingly the ‘father son rivalry’ between him and the son of his last mark Steve, and create truly exciting and interesting action sequences. The new Arthur Bishop would be played by Jason Statham (of Transporter and Guy Ritchie film fame) and would-be assassin in training Steve would be played by Ben Foster (I first saw him in the underrated comedy Big Trouble but he also had notable roles in X-Men: Last Stand and 3:10 to Yuma).

mechanic-statham

The remake was up-front, direct, unapologetically macho fun. It was simple in its approach and handling of the material but delivered that in-your-face immediate and dangerous appeal of the life of a professional hitman. Ben Foster has the convincing look of a dangerously neurotic and unpredictable electrical wire. Again I feel that the real dynamic between a grieving son and a guilty assassin could have been better utilized. The action sequences were momentously more involved, intricate, and inspired. The problem it has, which it shares with its successor, is that while the action is indeed well-done and exciting, it is…purposeless.

You have to remember that we are supposed to be watching the world of an assassin. Their specialty is not just to kill but the art of the kill. They thrive in secrecy and subtlety. So is a guns-blazing mad shootout with an army of private guards really supposed to be their forte? Quality over quantity should be the mantra. We should see incredibly choreographed fatal ‘accidents’ that make us wary of starting our cars or accepting packages from strangers. What we get is an ambush and a guard shootout that are equally entertaining but much less fitting. The dark art of contract killing can be fascinating without being over the top. Historical dramas love the story of the rise and fall of mafia hitmen. Old film noir of hardened killers being softened by damsels in distress capture the true tragedy of romance. Assassins need their rightful place in the action movie genre.

Statham Dancing.gifI like Jason Statham, I really do. I think he was a great find in Guy Ritchie’s Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and Revolver. His Transporter series is a guilty pleasure (especially the first with the breathtakingly stunning Shu Qi). I even liked him in the 1980s Erasure music video. I am not ashamed to say I think he’s got the looks and he’s a decent actor as well. Do I wish that he would get chances to stretch his range and play more than just the muscle in dime a dozen action films with aged action stars? Absolutely. But what he does get he does well, even if the material doesn’t give him much chance. I think he needs a new agent who can sell him on more than just his body but if that’s what we’re going to get I’m still pretty confident in his skills so yes I’ll keep watching and keep supporting his career.

Mechanic Resurrection.jpg

So that’s how I approached Mechanic: Resurrection. See the sequel has a few things already going for it. First of all, there was no sequel with Charles Bronson’s Bishop, which frees Resurrection from the burden of comparison and allows it to explore a whole different range. Second, it brings back Statham to continue his rendition of the lonely hitman. This would be a new start, a fresh take, and a second chance. Third, it pairs Jason Statham with the best accessory of all, some eye candy in the form of wholesomely sexy Jessica Alba (Sky Kids in a skimpy blue bikini).

So what did they do poorly? One word should just about sum up the biggest stumble in the movie: knowledge. There are too many characters with too much knowledge who do too little with it and there are yet still others with too little knowledge who are capable of too much. Bishop knows why Gina (Alba’s character) is there. He correctly predicts and anticipates his enemy’s moves and he STILL falls for the girl and the trap with little resistance or countermove. He knew! The movie had an incredible opportunity to flip audience expectations by calling out the norm and instead it…followed through? Gina is supposed to be a retired military spec ops operative. She should know how to defend herself and handle herself in a confrontation. So why are we watching her flail about in a loose sundress? We know little to nothing of the antagonist’s origins or motivations. Yet he seems to command a mini army who are able to track and kidnap Bishop regardless of his many identities and exotic locales. The final mark (a hilarious minor role for a very major actor) knows little of Bishop or his true intentions yet fully trusts him in orchestrating the final confrontation.

Oops.gifThe movie felt rushed and misprioritized. There is quite literally a scene in the middle of the movie on the antagonist’s boat that accomplishes nothing, does nothing to plot, and distracts from the main objective. It was a distraction to raise the movie’s body count at what I can only imagine is a legally required interval of time between action sequences. Great action? Absolutely. Some great gun play and combat but ultimately not necessary. They missed an opportunity to get what they paid for. Jessica Alba is undoubtedly beautiful and stunning. But she’s not a good actress. She convinces me of very little of her role. But they spent the money to put the international star Michelle Yeoh in this film as well. I wanted to see so much more of her as Mae. Who is she really? What is the nature of her and Bishop’s relationship? Would she ever get involved in the chaos? I really thought if you wanted to get to Bishop you’d go for the long-time friend, not the five-minute fling.

To be fair though, I do want to say that overall I enjoyed the film. They did do a number of things right for what I was expecting and hoping to get. No one is saying Mechanic: Resurrection will redefine the action genre. But we can say it is an effective example of what the action genre should deliver to its audiences. As I said before I enjoy Jason Statham and he does not disappoint in his role as Bishop. He is professional, efficient, effective, and deadly. He has the ability of comedic timing and the convincability of deadly lethality. The movie itself is a gem to look at. We are taken to some of the most beautiful settings in the world when we are taken to Brazil, Thailand, and Australia. The water scenes are large and expansive and the height scenes are dizzying. There are some great colors in the film in the settings and costumes that really make the movie pop visually. The action scenes, again though at times out of place, are well choreographed and adrenaline pumping. It’s a ‘bang bang boom’ kind of movie that delivers the right amount of bangs and booms. I could very easily settle into my chair with a bag of popcorn and allow myself to indulge in some Hollywood style violence. I might even find myself inching closer to the edge of my seat at times.

Overall I’m satisfied that I got what I expected. Again Resurrection benefits from very little expectation and nothing to compare to. It takes a very safe route cinematically and a very conservative take on the assassin action movie but it is a tried and true type that it fulfills completely. It’s a fun movie. It’s a silly movie. It’s a good movie.

Day 67

Man: 50 Loneliness: 17

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24 thoughts on “Day 67: The Man and The Defense of the Dark Arts

  1. Reading this in a public place was a bad idea.I had to stop myself from laughing loudly. Haha. I am glad you and your bro did enjoy it. And yeah. They should’ve made Michelle Yeoh do something! It’s exactly what I felt when I watched Transporter 1. I mean, Shu Qi must have been one or two kicks, no? Haha! Tsk.
    Your post definitelt did brighten up some lanterns in the darkness. Haha. Some.
    Don Jon is watched too. Stay tuned. LoL

    Liked by 1 person

  2. love ben forster, so i really appreciate your description of him as “a dangerously neurotic and unpredictable electrical wire” (exquisite phrase!). jason gets to stretch his comedic muscles to great avail in “spy” – hope you saw that one.

    this genre is not normally my cuppa, but your review makes the movie & its sequel sound worthwhile. well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahah. Glad you appreciate the description. I loved him in ‘Spy’. He was the highlight of the whole movie. ‘Cooper, is this a f*cking lake?!’ Mechanic is certainly a movie made specifically for those action movie adrenaline chasers but the first Transporter movie had action style and some real awareness.

      Like

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