Twitter review: If you can embrace the silliness of the action, you should have fun watching this film.
Spoiler-free review: I have to admit, I was curious about this film. I had seen the original The Mechanic, with Charles Bronson, and I had not seen the remake that Jason Statham had made. Having seen this film, I’m actually happy I didn’t see the remake, because I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have liked it as much as the original.
Jason Statham plays Bishop, an assassin whose specialty is killing someone while making it look like an accident. At the end of the first film, Bishop had faked his own death, and here he has spent 5 months living the good life in Rio. When some people find him and threaten him, Bishop flees to Taiwan, spending some time with his friend Mae. After saving a woman from being beaten by her boyfriend, Bishop eventually finds out that he has been tracked again to Taiwan by Crain, someone who he grew up with and who wants Bishop dead. Bishop is forced to perform three more jobs killing people. All three are under heavy guard and in near-impossible positions to get at. Nevertheless, our anti-hero uses his near genius level of ability to figure out ways to get close to each of these men and kill them while making it look like an accident.
In the original The Mechanic, Charles Bronson played a person similar to his character in Death Wish – someone with cold anger underneath, but also very calculating and precise. Jason Statham’s Bishop, on the other hand, is a bit like his role from The Transporter – someone who has ‘a certain set of skills’ (OK, I know that’s from Liam Neeson’s Taken, but it seems to fit here) who winds up sacrificing life and limb to save a damsel in distress (and although Jessica Alba’s character had supposedly been in the army, it would have been nice if she could have kicked just ONE bad guy’s ass).
This is a film where you have to embrace the silliness of some of the stuff you see. When Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne opens up a case filled with money and passports, you see about 5 or 6 passports he can use. When Bishop opens up a case with his passports and guns, there are about 20 of them. And that was in his Rio location. He had another 20 in Taiwan. And within the first 5 minutes of the film, Bishop gets away from the bad guys first by jumping on top of a gondola, then leaping off onto the top of a passing para glider. This is not a film you can take seriously. It was why, later in the film, when the violence started getting really ridiculous, I could at least embrace it and laugh (I had to think of a film from earlier this year, Hardcore Henry. There, Henry throws a grenade down a stairwell. When the grenade goes off, a bad guy flips up in the air, then falls back down again. Here, Bishop tosses a grenade into a Jacuzzi, then shoves the bad guy in. Boom. Instant red water splashes up). If the filmmakers can continue to find reasons for Bishop to keep coming out of hiding to kill off a bunch of people in ridiculous ways, I’m sure this will be yet another franchise Jason can be proud of can make more money off of.
Spolier-filled review: Tommy Lee Jones, clearly copying his vibe from his turn in the film Under Siege, is one of the bad guys Bishop has to take out. While I sort of enjoyed his performance (I really liked his performance in Under Siege, where he got nuttier as the film went on), I felt that his presence, as well as Michelle Yeoh’s, was wasted here. Both Tommy Lee and Michelle can act, and Michelle can kick some ass. It would have been better if those characters were played by less well known people, simply because I felt like they were wasted here. I’m also wondering if Tommy Lee Jones’ character will be the motivation for Bishop to return in the next Mechanic film. If Crain could find Bishop anywhere in the world, it stands to reason Tommy Lee’s Max could do the same. Maybe then we could see Tommy Lee really go nuts.