Mechanic: Resurrection (2016) / Action-Thriller

MPAA Rated: R for violence throughout and language
Running Time: 99 min.

Cast: Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Sam Hazeldine, Tommy Lee Jones, Michelle Yeoh
Small role: Richard Kline, Pete Holmes, Richard Masur, Ben Stiller, Lena Dunham, Elel
Director: Dennis Gansel
Screenplay: Philip Shelby, Tony Mosher

Review published August 22, 2016

Mechanic: Resurrection is the follow-up to 2011's The Mechanic, a remake to a Charles Bronson thriller from the early 1970s, and a film few outside of Jason Statham devotees have seen, much less remember exists (it made only $62 million worldwide).  For those who didn't see it or scarcely remember it, it's not a requirement to view it, though I do give it a mild recommendation for fans of the action-thriller genre.  While the original film reached back to the 1970s for its inspiration, this sequel seems content to rehash the formula actioners of the 1980s, especially the mercenary-hero flicks like Schwarzenegger's Commando, where the aim wasn't just to rack up a high kill count, but to also make sure each kill is done in the most stylish and explosive way possible. It does continue the trend of the first one as another mid-budget action film in his filmography you'll forget about a month after seeing it.

The film opens up with Arthur Bishop (Statham, Furious 7) retired from the contract killing profession, only to get pulled back in again by one of his old enemies, an international arms dealer named Riah Crain (Hazeldine, The Huntsman: Winter's War), looking to root him out for another contract that Bishop initially rebuffs.  While on the resort beaches of Thailand, Bishop ends up saving an abused damsel named Gina (Alba, Stretch) and soon enters into a romance with her.  When the big-bad ends up kidnapping Bishop's new lover, he reluctantly consents to perform three near-impossible assassinations of extremely well-guarded targets within a day and a half, and has to make them all look like they were fluke accidents. Failure means the end of Gina, and probably Bishop too, if Crain manages to find him again.

To temper the kills and keep Bishop as the hero, the kills aren't exactly good people -- one is an incarcerated murderous warlord who has perpetuated many hideous war crimes against innocent people, another is a child predator, etc. Each potential assassination is set up like the premise of a level of an action-based video game like "Hitman", where the hero must traverse through a series of increasingly difficult obstacles to get his man, who happens to be surrounded by a seemingly impenetrable fortress while always flanked by an entourage of henchmen.  You would think that fun could be had just in watching Bishop go "MacGyver" in trying to finagle his way into and out of his elaborate assassinations without being detected, but the way Resurrection presents each episode of the overall plot makes it all feel like a gimmick to draw out forced moments of action than in trying to concoct a real story to follow and characters that have a purpose other than to serve as someone to save or someone to kill.

Sparks certainly do not fly between the would-be lovebirds, Statham and Alba, whose characters, if the film is to believed, are so emotionally connected, they're kill (or potentially get killed) in order to save them. Despite it all, Gina still isn't on a first-name basis with this man who is pulling off some incredible feats to spare her life.  If you're ever tasked with finding an example of an unconvincing on-screen romance, there are few better examples of one than that which fizzles at the heart of Mechanic: Resurrection.

Not that it's the fault of the actors, as even the normally reliable Tommy Lee Jones (Jason Bourne), who plays Bishop's third mark, comes off as a hammy actor in the hands of director Dennis Gansel, who has given the veteran thespian an Ozzy Osbourne/Ringo Starr aging-rocker makeover, complete with Lennon-rimmed glasses and soul patch, to look younger and hipper than his 69 years.  Luckily for Jones, he's only in the last half hour of the film, which means many people will never see him, having shut off the pedestrian action-thriller long before.

Statham delivers exactly what you'd expect -- the Stoic swagger and lots of well-orchestrated, martial arts-tinged action sequences. It's everything you expect, and nothing you haven't seen before.  As the trailer basically gives away all of the best parts, including the kills and the film's major reveal, why not save yourself ninety minutes of your life and watch that instead and pretend you've seen it. Unless you're a hardcore Statham fan, Mechanic: Resurrection proves to be too mechanical to have bothered bringing back to life.

Qwipster's rating:

2016 Vince Leo