“The Mechanic”
 
Re-makes are always a bit risky, but maybe if you wait long enough, and the first one was obscure enough, few people will remember it, anyway.
            The original movie was made in 1972, starring Charles Bronson as the aging hit man (kind of an oxymoron, really), and Jan Michael-Vincent as his young protégé.  The 2011 version stars Jason Statham as Arthur Bishop, the professional contract killer who gets his orders over a disposable cell phone and receives his money in the mail.   He’s survived this long because he has no personal attachments, he’s inconspicuous in appearance, he works completely alone, he’s utterly ruthless, and he’s very creative and resourceful in the way he arranges the demise of his victims.  Sometimes it’s made to look like an accident.  Sometimes, it’s very obvious in order to “make a statement.”  Sometimes asphyxiation, other times drowning----a bullet to the brain, a slit across the throat, a drug-induced heart attack disguised as a suicide hanging---there are all kinds of ways to do this.  And he’s an expert at them all.
            Little wonder that after so many years, he develops a bit of world-weariness about it all.  That’s why he’s even open to the idea of training an apprentice, which his anonymous superiors are decidedly against (because they want him always isolated, never with an ally), but hey, this is super-macho, and nobody tells us what to do, right?
            Yes, there is a semblance of a plot.  The Mechanic is asked to take out his old mentor, then discovers that that betrayal is a precursor to his own.  So now he’s really dangerous---a rogue assassin with no moral compass and little compunction and angry and on a mission.  What follows is mayhem of the first order:  explosions, gunfights, chase scenes, hand-to-hand combat, and the young audience in the theater where this reviewer attended the screening was clearly exhilarated by the vicarious thrill of it all. 
            Of course, it’s a bit of a stretch for a sincere Christian to be put in a position of rooting for the violence.  But they start to reel us in when the first victim is a notorious drug dealer.  (Yes, there’s a part of us that would like to see all of them “taken out” like that.)  But then the next project is a smarmy, obese televangelist (another oxymoron?) who’s reported to be too fond of children, and a drug addict, besides, but he’s such a buffoonish, hypocritical character, representing religion, that we wonder if there isn’t an implied patronization somewhere in there.  And then, when the master and his conscience-less student develop their considerable skills for shattering the sixth commandment, the vague unease turns into a sort of determined incredulity.  And when the only relationships with women are of the emotionless variety, also, finally we just figure it’s a kind of caricature, and we may as well either suspend our disbelief entirely, or walk out in bewilderment that our culture worships such inhumane humanity, which takes us much closer to the territory of the first commandment.
            “The Mechanic,” indeed.
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas