THE MECHANIC

by Alex K. on January 28, 2011

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So, terribly efficient, or efficiently terrible?

Sort of middle of the road. The Mechanic wants to have it both ways, with brutal violence, but with morally redeeming underpinning that kind of renders the whole point of ultraviolence moot. This one doesn’t have enough character to be presented in the 80s action format, as it aspires between massive shootouts to something more cerebral. The thinking man’s Punisher Warzone, which entirely underestimates that film’s ability to scrape genius.

Thinking is hard.

And how. Starting, naturally, with a voiceover of the Ethos of Assassin which is the first time that has ever been expressed, The Mechanic lays out the spartan existence that is the lone killer. While Jason Statham can lay waste to entire cities, he is armed with no premortem one-liners, which would make this a slog of silent, efficient, and forgettable deaths. So he takes on a pupil and trains him in the arts of killing via ludicrously elaborate traps. He has the kid hang out at a coffee shop with a dog for a month to ensnare a professional killer who apparently is so good that he is easily found at the same coffee
shop every day.

A buddy movie? Really?

Without an ounce of cute banter, so the gay quotient is pathetic. Statham has a girl who he pays thousands for, so I guess she isn’t a whore. The other guy pounds one troll in the alley, and otherwise is devoid of emotion apart from a desire for vengeance for his fallen and estranged father.

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A little background, so the hating is done proper.

Statham is a hired killer for a bunch of executives who apparently really hate goons with some morally objectionable foible.
Really, the targets are:
An arms dealer who will sell to anyone, which is kind of the point
A cartel leader
A religious cult figure
A professional killer for the opposition (unnamed) who is a pedo

The Mechanic is some spineless shit for this. Like if we are watching a movie for the sole purpose of appreciating a decent body count, we cannot enjoy it unless the departed are somehow malignant scumbags. I half-expected them to hit kittens with shovels just to assuage our guilt at watching a horrible amount of bloodshed. I deal with guilt often enough in real life, I can check that bullshit at the door and grin while a busload of children are incinerated, thanks. So why don’t movies about assassins ever have a guy killed because his death will mean a good deal for the killer’s employer, like Target murdering the lead attorney for Wal-Mart just before he starts a trial defending a Walton for distributing snake porn? I can deal with a film about an amoral asshole, because I spend my waking hours acting like a nice person and need a vacation now and then.

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Lost the thread.

So Statham’s contact and mentor is marked for death, and Statham kills him, and takes the guy’s son under his wing and trains him to be an assassin. I am giving nothing away in saying that the mentor’s murder was a betrayal by Statham’s employer so he would kill an innocent man. Because if you are going to fuck somebody over, it would be a preternatually gifted killer. Anyway, son becomes master, and they do jobs together.

I suppose this is where the Thinking Man comes in.

Statham educates his pupil that adrenaline can be unreliable in killing a man – except that an ambulance crew will arrive and the first drug they give is epinephrine, which, and I quote, “Is toxic when combined with adrenaline.” Look this up. They are the same thing. Ketamine counteracts epinephrine (no it doesn’t). Every job involves the mark doing exactly what is expected of them. A target is killed by strangling him with a scope inserted into the airway, but they seal his nose and mouth anyway, so why use the scope? Awkward and stupid. Intelligence is simulated by having the killers plan out something in great detail which would make the chance of success in the practical world vanishingly small. The film is intended to be brooding, as Statham must carry the guilt of killing his mentor with him, let alone the hundreds of people left dead in his wake. Not that any of this appears to bother him, especially after he engineers a trap whereby his pupil is killed. Spoiler, I guess, but really this film is too dim for you to really care about the outcome.

Novelty Deaths, if you do not mind.

There are some decent action sequences, which kind of dispel the mood the director was trying to cast with a Jean-Pierre Melville film put through a tard filter. Bodies are crushed by cars, some point-blank head shots, and a splat onto concrete after a fall from height. One guy gets a spear in his leg artery, but was shot in the head, so I guess that doesn’t count. An arms dealer is strangled and the scene is made to look like autoerotic asphyxiation, but this is explained verbatim by a character, so it is less funny than it should have been. The big bad guy is pureed by bullets, but this happens offscreen. The strangest scene involves the pedo.

Some gay content, at long last?

Well, the pupil avoids the quick and clean dispatch of his quarry in favor of getting the plasma beaten out of him. He lures a guy known for being into young boys/men/whatever plus chihuauas to a bar, then goes home with him. The kid is on the bed, fumbling with the belt, and grabbing the guy’s shirt, and really seems into it beyond acting a role. He attempts strangulation with a belt, and it does not go over well at all. The guy is as big as a fucking building, and any one of ten blows to the skull or being thrown into a wall would be enough to kill our trainee who weighs a buck fifty soaking wet. The pedo gets a fireplace poker to the neck, so all is well that ends well.

Does the pretension match the gore?

It really does aspire to Melville, hilariously. Except the hero actually gets away, which shitcans the entire guilt subtext that was built thus far. There is an unrelated shot of ripples in a pond that would evoke Sansho the Baliff in the dumbest possible way. There seems to be an element of fatalism in the story, as everyone eventually dies by the sword. That being said, Statham ensures that if he is killed for any reason, if the kid tries to drive his luxury car, it will blow up. So much for the vicissitudes of fate. It is difficult to get invested in the fortune of a killer for whom fighting the entire world including your assassin in training is treated like an inconvenience.

About

Alex is an actual medical doctor. Really. At a hospital and everything. We donít know what heís doing here, but he writes good reviews.

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