Mechanic: Resurrection (film review by Frank Ochieng)
British badass Jason Statham is back and doing what he does best: kicking butt and taking targeted names in the process. The veteran action star is out for more blood in the labored sequel ‘Mechanic: Resurrection’. The trouble, however, is that fist-swinging wrecking ball Statham’s taste for boisterous blood in his latest toothless and meandering globe-trotting caper may be in desperate need of a transfusion. Woefully repetitive, aimless, strained and riddled with formulaic sharp-shooting shenanigans, ‘Mechanic: Resurrection’ is yet another bombastic Bond knock-off that synthetically strut its stuff in stunt-driven oblivion. The majority of Statham fans may find this latest installment of ‘Mechanic’ worth tinkering with due to its kinetic action-pack parts in motion with its stylish bald-headed anti-hero at the helm of voyeuristic mayhem. Still, for others, the excitable human bullet factor routine that the aging Statham has perfected in his past furious film exploits (read: ‘The Transporter’ film series in particular) is getting long in the tooth as ‘Mechanic: Resurrection’ is yet another familiar and feisty vehicle that the punishing tough guy has predictably driven before.
‘Resurrection’ is the follow-up to the 2011 blueprint ‘The Mechanic’ where Statham portrayed a stone-faced iron man ‘gun-for-hire’ whose mission is to travel the world while eradicating high-profiled baddies, a specialty that he mechanically and skillfully carries out with polished precision. Naturally, Statham’s charged take as the combative assassin is based upon the 1972 flick ‘The Mechanic’ featuring the late great gravel-faced action icon Charles Bronson who was no stranger to vigilante-style cinema. Statham’s ‘take-no-prisoners’ approach as the hardened terminator Arthur Bishop is definitely inspired when the English acrobatic avenger is summoned to brandish exotic weaponry, engage in calculating yet cockeyed ways to utilise boobytraps to exterminate his assigned targets and find time to occasionally court the hot chicks that dig his masculine, mischievous charm. No doubt that Statham’s blue-collar Bishop tries to echo the eye-popping sentiments of the aforementioned Bond’s debonair endeavors in intrigue, over-the-top villains, lavish locales and luscious ladies. As for watching the five decade-old adventurous James Bond, it feels like an excitable surreal vacation laced with imaginative dare and danger. In witnessing Statham’s stiffened and procedural Arthur Bishop, it seems somewhat like an assigned chore in chronicling the gadget-loving gumption of this action-oriented covert clone.
Sure, ‘Mechanic: Resurrection’ derives its occasional chilly charm from the scenic locations that allows the athletic Bishop to bounce around the globe on an elaborated whim. Plus, some may get an aesthetic rise out of the choreographed in-your-face confrontational fights and showy staged daredevil stunts that feature Bishop’s physical prowess. This is all well and good but the dubious dalliances and action-oriented swaggering that is demonstrated by Statham’s bone-crushing Bishop is rather uneventful and recycled. Unfortunately, ‘Resurrection’ refuses to allow Statham any flexible growth or depth to differentiate his caustic characterisation or the high-wire dilemmas beyond the previous antics regurgitated from his earlier copycat fare as ‘Crank’, ‘The Bank Job’ and yes…the obvious mention of ‘The Transporter’ series.
Hit man Arthur Bishop is basking in the scenic Rio de Janeiro surroundings in hopes of drowning out his deadly duties from yesteryear. Soon, Bishop’s wake-up call to resume his treacherous trade in taking out toxic targets is encouraged by his archenemy in warped businessman Riah Crain (Sam Hazeldine). Specifically, Crain wants Bishop to assassinate three persons of interest in particular that has him roaming three different continents. Bishop is not too receptive to getting back in ‘the grusome game’ but. of course. the crooked Crain has a twisted way of convincing him otherwise. The critical key to changing a reluctant Bishop’s mind was to hit him where is heart hurts…that is, abduct his gorgeous girlfriend Gina (Jessica Alba from ‘Sin City’).
Holding Gina captive clearly gives Crain the upper hand to urge the beleaguered Bishop to return to the fatalistic fold of his poisonous profession, wiping out the assigned undesirables while making it look like accidental incidents. Thus, Bishop puts on his traveling shoes as he hunts down an imprisoned African warlord, an Australian human trafficker and, finally, a Bulgaria-based arms dealer Max Adams (Oscar winner Tommy Lee Jones). If and when Bishop delivers his three kills for the ruthless Crain then Gina’s release is assured. It is a no-brainer that Bishop wants to ensure the safety of the exotic beauty Gina.
Alba’s Gina is not the only lovely lady that is attached to Bishop’s hip affectionately. In Thailand, Bishop manages to catch up with another cute bombshell in buddy Mei (martial arts goddess Michelle Yeoh wasted in a transparent role), an innkeeper that worries about her friend’s worldly welfare. Curiously, German director Dennis Gansel’s decision not to give the desirable ageless Asian actress anything to do constructive in this by-the-numbers actioner besides providing sideline concern for Statham’s Bishop is inexcusable. Why not play to Yeoh’s cinematic strengths as a karate-kicking cutie pie with a deadly disposition…you know, what movie audiences have come to expect and cherish about the beautiful Malaysian performer’s film-related credibility? The 1997 Bond film ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ effectively used the curvaceous Yeoh to compliment Pierce Brosnan’s Agent 007 so Gansel could not oblige her more on-screen activity with the robotic Statham?
Of course any Statham-oriented movie would not be complete without the arbitrary display of colourful explosions, glorified chases, exaggerated gunplay and a no-nonsense Bishop predictably flexing his acrobatic leaping, climbing, swimming and fighting muscles as if he was participating in his own self-indulgent Olympic games. There is no real rhyme or reason behind ‘Mechanic: Resurrection’ other than to revisit the nostalgic relevance of Statham’s left-over box office heft from yesteryear. Perhaps the proven off-kilter spark that Statham generated in the Melissa McCarthy well-received espionage laugher ‘Spy’ could have been injected in this gimmicky and pointless pot-boiler that has all the succulent juices of a dried-up meatloaf. All the challenging stunt work and exquisite locations cannot excuse the lack of lubrication that ‘Mechanic’ desires in its insipid, loud execution.
There is not much to chew on the bone concerning the so-called return of Statham’s harried hit man that constitutes round two of another dazzling but dense ‘Mechanic’ offering. Alba’s distressed diva is nothing more than stand-by eye candy and the convenient motivating factor for Statham’s/Bishop’s worldwide witch-hunt. Hazeldine’s Crain barely passes muster as a second-rate Bond villain left on the cutting room floor. Jones, who has played wacky villains in the past, merely going through the tiresome motions as pseudo-flashy Max Adams with off-the-cuff irreverence.
Perhaps Arthur Bishop’s glossy gadgets could prevent an unwelcoming third edition of another ‘Mechanic’ entry from blasting away in boorish fashion?
Mechanic: Resurrection (2016)
1 hr. 50 mins.
Starring: Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones, Sam Hazeldine, Michelle Yeoh, Natalie Burn and Yayaying Rhatha Phongam
Directed by: Dennis Gansel
MPAA Rating: R
Genre: Action and Adventure/Suspense Thriller/International Crime Drama
Critic’s rating: * 1/2 stars (out of 4 stars)
(c) Frank Ochieng 2016