Friday, January 27, 2012

The Mechanic. C+

I like Charles Bronson as an action hero, except that to me he's really more of a realist in disguise. I would put him below Eastwood, but certainly above Steve McQueen as far as macho movie stars are concerned. The Mechanic is a pretty good example of what makes Bronson distinct, which is that he plays characters that defy the logic of action cinema. That is to say, when the car explodes, he might be in it (a car does actually explode at the end of The Mechanic, but by then Bronson's already made his message pat). Bronson is excellent here, playing a real hit man, not a movie star with a gun who hits his opponents with his eyes shut. We see this in a really nice opening scene that goes on for quite some time in depicting Bronson's character preparing a kill. It's not just having good aim and the right weapon. It's the planning, the strategy, the little details that make the hit man as much a tactician as a good shot. The Mechanic gets this right. Unfortunately, as it goes on, it unfolds more and more into a generic action picture with a long climax straight from a James Bond movie. There's a somewhat big reveal near the end that ultimately casts a shadow over the whole film. Everyone and everything suddenly inhabits a sense of tastelessness where the only real path to go down is death. I liked Bronson, but I think he deserved a better movie than this. You may recall last year when a remake, also titled The Mechanic, was released, with Jason Statham in the lead. Haven't seen it, but can't imagine it being an improvement over this, especially considering that Bronson is the main reason to see the original, and Jason Statham is no Charles Bronson.

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