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