Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars
If you can say one thing certain about the state of Hollywood today it would be that the studios love remaking popular films (they also like bilking the public out of an extra three bucks for horrible 3D presentation but that’s another story). “The Karate Kid.” “True Grit.” “3:10 to Yuma.” In 1972 United Artist’s Christmas present to film fans was “The Mechanic,” a movie with an amazing pedigree. Written by Lewis John Carlino, who would also write the screenplays for such great films as “Seconds,” “The Great Santini” and “Resurrection.” Directed by the very (in my opinion) underrated Michael Winner, who did “Death Wish” and the great Robert Mitchum as Phillip Marlowe film “The Big Sleep.” And starring the actor every man in America, including my father, longed to be like: Charles Bronson. Almost four decades later “The Mechanic” is back. And he isn’t the worse for wear.
Arthur Bishop (Statham) is a mechanic. No, he can’t fix your car (well, he actually is restoring one on his off days so I guess technically he can). What he fixes are “problems.” And he fixes them in the simplest way possible. His assignments come to him through his long time friend Harry (Donald Sutherland), who mentored him in his early days. Harry has a son, Steven (Foster), a hot head who is much more re-active then he is pro-active! Driven by a similar cause, Steven asks Arthur to teach him the tricks of the trade. Arthur reluctantly agrees and Steven seems to have a knack for the job. But when a secret is discovered the relationship between the two men could be changed forever.
Director West proved he knew how to stage great on-screen action with his very first film, “Con Air.” He maintains that touch here, beginning the film with a pre-credit scene that could have come out of a James Bond film. Statham has slowly become this generations’ Bruce Willis, combining a quiet and sly screen persona with the ability to kick major ass when called upon. Let me qualify my James Bond comparison here. I’m not saying that Statham is Daniel Craig. But he’s also not George Lazenby! Foster, who played a hot head in the remake of the above mentioned “3:10 to Yuma” plays another one here, though the persona fits the character perfectly. As the main man who calls the shots, Tony Goldwyn is an even smugger version of the guy he played twenty years ago in “Ghost.” This has been a banner year for Goldwyn, who also directed the film “Conviction,” a film I greatly enjoyed.
Of course every remake can’t help but be compared to the original. But that being said I can say that this version of “The Mechanic” is a worthy companion to the Bronson flick that preceded it.