Synopsis – Arthur Bishop thought he had put his murderous past behind him when his most formidable foe kidnaps the love of his life. Now he is forced to travel the globe to complete three impossible assassinations, and do what he does best, make them look like accidents.
My Take – It’s really hard to remember the last time a Jason Statham headed film was actually good. This one is the sequel to the 2011 film The Mechanic, which was a remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson film of the same name. Sequels to remakes are sort of rare and since most people aren’t even aware of the initial film to start with, one must wonder why this sequel exists at all. Producers rarely need a reason to mount sequels, but it would be nice to know why 2011’s “The Mechanic” was selected to become a franchise. The picture wasn’t particularly well-received with audiences and critics, and its box office take was flat, failing to achieve the same results as star Jason Statham’s previous action series, “The Transporter.” This mystery may never be solved, but something triggered the creation of this follow-up that strips away all the faux grit of the original feature to transform into a James Bond-esque romp that’s as loosely scripted as can be. To be clear, this film is so cookie cutter bad that viewing it alone seriously will just make you sad. It’s impossible to call this is a good film with a straight face. No, that’s not right at all. It’s far too stupid for that, downright ludicrous even. The film suffers from several ludicrous plot points, silly setups, and even sillier payoffs. But it has something far worse. The CGI is everywhere in this film and it is low rent cable TV film bad.
This sequel carries forward only two ideas: that gimmick-y “assassinations that look like accidents” are a valid substitute for story, and that Statham can carry an action film even when it is propped up on such wobbly legs. Despite boasting a few ingenious action beats, this film challenges both concepts. The story follows Arthur Bishop (Statham), a skilled assassin, who is gifted in the art of killing people and making it look like an accident. Following the events of the 2011 film, the now retired Arthur is living a quite live in Brazil, until he is pursued by an old acquaintance, an arms dealer named Crain (Sam Hazeldine), who wants to hire him for three specific kills. Bishop is not interested, so Crain – inexplicably – tries to take Bishop out. Bishop escapes and hides in Thailand with the help of an old friend Mei (Michelle Yeoh). Here, Arthur meets the domestically abused Gina (Jessica Alba) and the two quickly fall in love. It turns out Gina was actually sent by Crain to get close to Bishop, but she quickly ditches that plan and actually falls for him. Hence, Crain uses Gina to force Bishop into doing his bidding, so Bishop sets off to carry out the three assassinations, all the while trying to figure out a way to save his damsel-in-distress and payback his old pal. The plot here disappoints, with writers Philip Shelby and Tony Mosher crafting a vague connection of characters, imagining Gina as some type of noble humanitarian caught up in bad business. She’s here to motivate Arthur into action, but Gina also acts as a love interest for the killer, with the pair bonding immediately because the script demands it, finding chemistry between the leads lacking in intensity. The whole film is just so bland and farfetched, the action scenes are sometimes so illogical and the film doesn’t even follow its own rules (for instance, from the trailer we learn he has to assassinate a few people and make it look like an accident. yet one specific kill is very clearly not an accident). Starting off with an initial hand-to-hand fighting scene that culminates in Bishop jumping onto the back of a hang-glider in order to escape, the first 30 minutes or so are awfully slow for an action film such as this. Even when things pick up, the situation is often so absurd that it is devoid of any real thrills or tension. In the film, Bishop manages to infiltrate an Alkatraz-like prison, and is told to kill an important kingpin and make it look like an accident. Don’t pay attention to the fact that he not only kills one of the other inmates, but he ends up making a pretty big scene. It’s like the filmmakers bringing up a premise, and then by the next scene it’s already abandoned, and we’re not supposed to notice or care. A film like this would benefit from some comedy, but this action flick doesn’t even have witty one-liners. It’s dull and imbecilic, and takes itself way too seriously even while nearly every moment screams with absurdity.
A few scenes are dressed up with memorably practical, if unusual combos. Say you’ve got a hot tub, a grenade, and a bad guy. What to do? Grenade goes in the hot tub; guy goes in the water, and boom. Nothing is considered in any depth; the action is all of the moment rather than a string of tumbling consequences, so when Bishop slides down a building after dispatching a bad guy, it’s no surprise that news camera footage shows the bad guy’s death, but doesn’t seem to see Statham at all. Now let’s face it, a film like this shouldn’t exactly be plot- heavy. What anyone can reasonably expect is some close-quarters brawling, kinetic gun-play, massive explosions and kick-butt one- liners all to the tune to a soundtrack of pure bluster. Plus, given the amount of super villain henchmen dying horrifically and shooting for s**t, it’s pretty much a given the script for this film was in a producer’s back-drawer somewhere marked “Arnold Schwarzenegger Vehicles”. Though the lead is supposed to be this real cleaver assassin in his ability to get in and create a death trap for his victims, I have to say, the traps go by too fast to seem cleaver at all, but I did not go to this film to see Statham be cleaver, I went to see him be bad ass, and he does this in-between missions. It’s not the best action sequences I’ve seen Statham do, not by a long shot. As I mentioned before, the action starts strong and strangely gets weaker as the story goes by. Not to the point where they suck but you will notice the sudden dwindle in quality. Yet the film tries to be so much smarter than it really is. The intricate planning of each of the protagonists marks demands audience attention, painstakingly creating a collage of premeditation. Yet with each passing moment, it becomes clear that Bishop’s meticulousness is less a character detail than a plot device; an excuse to be showy for showy’s sake. It’s like the film is trying to be a low-rent Mission: Impossible. The only reason to see the film, beyond all the laughable stupidity and genuinely amusing/surprisingly poor action, is of course the ever charming Jason Statham. He somehow deadpans his way through the thing to give another charmingly grizzled and oddly credible performance. The guy truly is one of best action star of his generation. There’s a reason why he keeps getting these flicks made and people keep coming to see them. He’s also the only person involved who seems to understand how hilariously stupid the whole thing is. By committing to it with deadpan intensity, he delivers another self-conscious performance even though his collaborators don’t seem to be in on the joke this time. Jessica Alba’s character is fine here. Her only job seems to be is to look hot & concerned. Sam Hazeldine is good, while Michelle Yeoh is wasted. Tommy Lee Jones is hilarious in a cameo. It’s pretty clear this film wasn’t developed as an actual sequel to ‘The Mechanic’, but had that label added later for added brand recognition. The remaining bulk of the actors appear to be embarrassed that they’re even here. On the whole, ‘Mechanic: Resurrection’ is a dead on arrival horrendous far from satisfying film with missing genuine thrills. This is a sequel that has no reason to exist.
Directed – Dennis Gansel
Rated – R
Run Time – 99 minutes