Again, unless you're one of the rare few that's actually seen the original, none of that really matters if you plan to go see director Simon West's remake. It has little to directly compare with its inspiration, beyond similar character names, a similar primary revenge plot, and a few visual callbacks. For the most part, this movie is as uniquely a Jason Statham movie--which is practically its own genre at this point--as any Charles Bronson movie was during his heyday. That West seems to have little interest in anything beyond showing assassins being very good at killing people in increasingly violent and over-the-top ways suits Statham and his abilities as an action star just fine. People die, Stath quips grumpily, lather, rinse, repeat for 90 minutes, and call it an action movie.
At least the action is good. As a mechanic (def: hitman) of almost superhuman ability, Statham's Arthur Bishop is fun to watch as he lays painstakingly precise waste to whatever target he's assigned by the shadowy corporation that employs him. It's when that tricky little thing known as plot comes around that The Mechanic falters.
Donald Sutherland). The CEO of Killing People Inc., played with appropriate unseemliness by Tony Goldwyn, says Sutherland's gone rogue due to mounting debts, leaving Statham with little choice but to execute his pal. But once the job's done, perhaps feeling a bit of remorse, he does something antithetical to his stoic, relationship-free lifestyle: He takes Sutherland's troubled son ( Ben Foster) under his wing, and offers to train him in the deadly arts.
Quickly, too. The Mechanic is nothing if not efficient in getting you from Point Stabbing to Point Gunshot Wound and back again in brisk fashion, even if the story ends up lurching around awkwardly in the process. West uses Statham and Foster as instruments of near-invincible killing prowess almost from the get-go. Foster's one nearly-botched assignment--a debut assassination of a rival assassin with the build of an offensive lineman and a penchant for twinky young boys--doesn't even register much tension when things start to go haywire. Still, it's a fun, brutal fight, sandwiched between many good brawls, bludgeonings and bullet-riddlings. West shoots the action with a cold but fast-paced effectiveness, and manages to offer up a good bit of blood (of the CGI variety) and painful looking deaths.
Maybe it's symptomatic of Jason Statham's current career path that I went into The Mechanic more or less expecting exactly what I got: A plot-thin, violence-heavy romp that runs the gamut of Statham's acting range. Namely, pleasantly gruff, stoically gruff, and just plain old gruff-gruff. He and Ben Foster are a good team, especially given that Foster dials down his penchant for insane overacting here. The trouble is that their pairing doesn't lead to much beyond some decently constructed action sequences and enfeebled attempts at plot twists. If you go to The Mechanic, go for the action. Just don't expect much from the clunker of a plot. I guess a good script mechanic really is hard to find.