Mechanic: Resurrection, 2016
Directed by Dennis Gansel.
Starring Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Michelle Yeoh, Sam Hazeldine and Tommy Lee Jones.
Believed dead ‘mechanic’ Arthur Bishop, one of the world’s best mercenary assassins, is dragged back into his old life by a wealthy arms dealer and a damsel in distress…
So you remember The Mechanic right? Jason Statham’s 2011 remake of the 1970’s Charles Bronson thriller? No? Here’s a funny story – nobody else does either. Of all the recent new beginnings of stalled movie franchises, this has to be the most baffling. Did anyone even watch The Mechanic in the first place? You know what you’re getting with The Stath but even for his enjoyably thick-headed talents, it was lower tier action fodder, mainly because it was just so chronically dull from the outset. Mechanic Resurrection, it’s long unanticipated sequel, threatens to go the same way with a plodding, listless opening half an hour which attempts to lend some emotion and import to the life of supposed dead, cool as ice mercenary assassin Arthur Bishop – basically the same character as Statham’s Frank Martin in The Transporter franchise, only lacking any of the Eurocentric dry humour that made the first of those films relatively enjoyable. Bishop is ‘the best’, who lives under a false name in exile in Rio trying to live a normal life, until his past follows him and drags him back in. It’s as cliched as it is tired, and were it not Statham undertaking the most hilariously old school Bondian stunt in the opening few minutes, you’d be forgiven for switching this nonsense off. Yet this sequel has something, a small something, that keeps the gears shifting.
Dennis Gansel’s movie wants to be James Bond for a start, and the script is structured like a combination of a pre-post modern Bond movie spliced with the Hitman video games (indeed this is probably a better Hitman film than both of the Hitman films). That opening scene is Gansel suggesting we shouldn’t take this too seriously… at which point the script spends half hour taking itself seriously, wasting Michelle Yeoh in a role anyone could have played, and trying to make you care about Statham’s relationship with blackmailed Jessica Alba, who in one of those hilarious moments of movie casting plays an aid worker caring for Cambodian children. That’s Jessica Alba, people. Stopped laughing yet? Okay then.
So after these two show everyone they have no chemistry and she thankfully gets kidnapped by Sam Hazeldine’s rent-a-Brit-villain (who has been plucked straight out of the 90’s – he’s like Dougray Scott in Mission Impossible 2, sans the wackiness), Statham has to undertake three kills in order to save Alba, her orphans and THE WORLD! Okay not quite the world but you get the drift. This is where it actually becomes interesting for about half an hour, because Statham’s video game missions are quite inventive in their ludicrousness, and do afford us an extended cameo from Tommy Lee Jones as a hipster, retro-Communist arms dealer (he presumably needed a few quid to do his kitchen up or something). You’ll find yourself engaged by Statham pulling off some supremely daft kills, even though never for a moment will you feel he’s in any danger – but then that’s not the point. This is designed simply for Statham to kick ass, take names and not do much acting, and in that it succeeds. Come the inevitable conclusion, which you can probably guess from the synopsis, it’s just become a video game without the thrill of playing yourself.
Oddly enough for a film with so much violence and blood, Mechanic Resurrection never feels particularly nasty or grown up. It’s what would happen if a 15 year old was told to write a big action film, with silly stunts and simple teenage ideas of romance (the unreasonably hot girl in the unbelievable job who needs saving by the perfect, precise killing machine), and it takes itself as seriously as a teenager would. For a moment you think Dennis Gansel might inject this with a touch of the knowing wit we’ve seen Statham employ before, which he can do, but alas no. There should be no fun to be had in Statham killing a stupid amount of goons, clearly, and while parts of this are inventively set up, the rest is so action movie vanilla you’ll have forgotten most of it by teatime. What’s this film called again?
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
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