There are very few hit men on the market as talented and effective as Arthur Bishop. Bishop sees his kills as special projects, and is always prepared, with a Plan B and an exit strategy. He’s the best of the best, and he learned most of it from his mentor, Harry (MASH veteran Donald Sutherland). Harry, now out of the game and surrounded by protection at all times, sees Bishop as his son in the profession if not in life.
All is well for both parties until Bishop gets his newest orders from the boss man, Dean (The Last Samurai’s Goldwyn). The hit is on Harry. Bishop (The Transporter’s Jason Statham) meets with Dean himself, and reluctantly takes the job. Harry and Bishop have one final farewell. Bishop is one of only two people who attend Harry’s burial. The other is Harry’s son, Steve (Pandorum’s Ben Foster).
Steve is a chain smoking drunk with no career or life aspirations. He is looking to sell the car, the house and just about anything other than his father’s guns. He plans to use those to get revenge on the carjackers who killed his father...or any carjacker he finds. He’s reckless and self-destructive, and nearly a victim of his own anger when Bishop finds him and saves him. Bishop agrees to train him, and puts him on an assignment, even though Steve is unaware.
Bishop takes Steve to a kill to ensure the younger man can handle it. He then provides the means and target for Steve’s first kill. Steve goes off of the plan, resulting in one of the best fight scenes in the film. The story accelerates from there, with the pair planning and executing their next kill with mixed results. Soon after, Bishop discovers a double-cross, and turns his crosshairs on the boss man himself.
The Mechanic is a well-paced action story that rides on a current of tension the entire time. Every relationship and partnership can be shattered at any moment, with explosive results. Statham is a known commodity, and viewers get the best of his acting chops. He doesn’t get any extended fight scenes (a la The Transporter series), but they don’t get the choppy, sexist bits from Crank, either. They get an extension of his performance in The Expendables.
Foster has a challenging role. He has to appear road-worn and damaged, fragile, angry, and gutsy as the situation demands. He handles the challenge well. Sutherland is very believable as the gun man with a long track record of success. The film earns its R rating on violence alone, and there are some amazing stunts. (They actually drive an SUV into a bus!)
Statham fans will enjoy this movie. It has much more of a story than some of his earlier excuses to just kick the crap out of a room full of tough guys. There’s plenty of shoot-em-up action, some good laughs (mostly from Sutherland), and lots of twists and turns along the way. It’s no Hitchcock, but it’s a great popcorn movie with lots of smoking barrels and empty shells.