Opening with what resembles a poor man's James Bond opening sequence, The Mechanic soon loses any suggestion of grade-A entertainment the moment Donald Sutherland appears. With all due to respect to Sutherland, who may have been a fine actor earlier in his career, his presence in a film nowadays can't help but signal to the viewer that they're in for a dud. Then again, a remake of a Charles Bronson film with Jason Statham in the lead can't have been aiming all that high to begin with.
Statham is Arthur, a first class hitman dubbed 'The Mechanic' for his uncanny ability to read people and situations; mentally taking them apart and knowing how they work. Sutherland is his one-time mentor, McKenna, now wheelchair-bound and apparently double-crossing the clandestine organisation for which they both work.
That's why Arthur is assigned to kill McKenna, which he does but not without a sense of regret. And that's probably why he takes on McKenna's screw up son Steve (Ben Foster) as his protege, beginning a beautiful friendship in the high stakes world of assassination.
Intentionally or not (and I say not given the targeted macho, hetero demographic), director Simon West and writers, Lewis John Carlino and Richard Wenk (no, seriously!), have given us the most homoerotic male duo in a studio film since Robert Downey Jnr and Jude Law bickered their way through Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes (2009).
Sadly, The Mechanic is not nearly half as much fun as that film, unless of course you enjoy excessive violence and inventive new ways to maim and kill. Or are a fan of Jason Statham. Me, not so much as the pint-sized Brit actor is pretty much the same in every film. But then that's somewhat appropriate given he's stepping into the shoes of Charles Bronson, an actor not remembered for his range. [Statham and Bronson fans are welcome to vent their spleens in the Comments section]
Foster, on the other hand, while slumming here (hey, we all have to pay the rent), is an impressive actor and interesting screen presence, worth keeping an eye out for.