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THIS REVIEW DEALS WITH GRAPHIC VIOLENCE AND GRAPHIC SEXUAL CONTENT. IT IS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN.

MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Action/Adventure
Cast
Jason Statham as Arthur Bishop; Ben Foster as Steve McKenna; Tony Goldwyn as Dean; Donald Sutherland as Harry McKenna
Director
Simon West (When a Stranger Calls, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, The General's Daughter)
Distributor
CBS Films
In Theaters
January 28, 2011
On Video
May 17, 2011
Reviewer
Bob Hoose
The Mechanic

The Mechanic

Arthur Bishop is a "mechanic," an elite assassin who can slip into any setting and take out his assigned target. And he'll readily tell you—as long as you aren't meeting him when he has a gun, knife or hypodermic needle in his hand—that there's a studied finesse required for such killings.

With the right plan, he can make a job look like an accident. He can pin it on someone else. Or use it to send a message. Or even make it appear as though nobody has done anything at all. He'll tell you that that last one takes patience, emotional detachment and every bit of skill he's managed to accumulate.

You might at this point ask him if there are ever any hiccups. And he would admit that sometimes a job comes along that can give even an experienced hired assassin pause. That makes him feel a little something.

The hit put out on Harry was one of those. Harry was Arthur's mentor. He was a good friend who taught him everything he knows, in fact. So shooting Harry in the chest and watching him bleed out kind of, well, hurt just a little. Making matters worse was Harry's prodigal son, Steve, who showed up afterwards looking hopeless and wasted. Arthur was still dealing with little twinges of emotion himself, so how could he turn his back? How could he not give this kid what Harry had given him?

If you've been listening carefully to what Arthur's been telling you, you already know what that entails: He takes Steve under his wing and makes him a protégé. Teaches him all the murderous moves. All the planning finesse.

But what happens if this newly formed heartless killer named Steve finds out who actually killed his dear old dad? What's the plan then, smart guy?

Positive Elements

There's a small part of Arthur that evidently feels some kind of regret for having to kill Harry. (But it doesn't stop him from following through on the murder.) Elsewhere, he rescues a man from being beaten to death.

Spiritual Content

One of Arthur's targets is a lecherous con man who calls himself the New Messiah. The man says he is touched by God and "has the Spirit's work to do." Steve asks Arthur if he ever gives his victims time to "make their peace." Arthur replies, "There is no peace."

Sexual Content

As Arthur has sex with a female acquaintance, the camera lingers on the act and their fully naked forms. (Their genitals are all that's blocked from view.) The camera ogles this woman's form at other times, too—when she's dressed in as much as tight jeans and a low-cut top, and as little as panties and an open shirt. Other women wear a variety of formfitting and low-cut outfits. Arthur strips out of a wet suit.

One of Arthur's victims is posed to look like he accidentally strangled himself during autoerotic asphyxiation. (He has his pants down with a rope around his neck.) Arthur leaves an online porn movie playing, and the camera zooms in as two naked women caress and lick each other's breasts.

A badly beaten Steve is approached in a bar by a girl who says, "I wish someone would hurt me like that." The scene then quickly flashes to the two finishing an apparently rough bout of sex up against a back alley wall. (Both are mostly clothed.)

Violent Content

From the opening minutes when an innocent is beaten with a rifle stock to the movie-closing explosive eruptions, The Mechanic tinkers with scene after scene of bone crunches and blood spatters. We see Arthur efficiently strangle a man to death, shoot a guy in the chest, blow out the brains of several others, jam a spy camera cable down somebody's throat and smash someone else through a bus window—timed so that his victim lands perfectly to splatter his brains across an oncoming car's headlight.

And those are the neat and orderly kills.

Most of Steve's jobs are sloppier. When he tries to mimic Arthur's choking technique on a 6-foot-7-inch-300-pound giant of a man, for example, the resulting battle smashes windows, furniture and kitchen appliances. Slashed and battered himself, Steve leaves blood splashed on seemingly every available surface as he stabs and brutally hacks at the man with any number of sharp objects (including a screwdriver and a fireplace poker).

Other violent encounters include a man being kicked in the face until bones splinter and gouges gush. A fellow is burst like a balloon by a garbage truck forklift. The camera examines a picture of a dismembered corpse. A bleeding man crawls out of a car wreck only to be viciously pureed by automatic gunfire. A man splats on the ground like a bag of bloody meat after a 20-story fall. A young girl has her hand shoved down toward a grinding garbage disposal. Etcetera.

Crude or Profane Language

Around 20 f-words and a dozen s-words. God's name is combined with "d‑‑n" and Jesus' with the f-word.

Drug and Alcohol Content

We see Arthur and Steve drinking beer and hard liquor on several occasions—Steve to the point of inebriation. Steve and a potential victim consume large quantities of liquor and wine. People in a bar drink, of course. And Arthur leaves a bottle of Scotch in the lap of a passed-out friend.

Steve is a chain-smoker. He also tokes marijuana on at least one occasion. A guy has a doctor hook him up to an IV drip that he then injects with a narcotic. Arthur prepares a dose of a drug for a kill.

Other Negative Elements

Steve both glorifies and rationalizes killing with, "I've always had this anger. And now I've got a place to put it. I think I would miss it if I had to stop now."

Conclusion

This is really all The Mechanic is: a bestubbled Jason Statham surrounded by battered, bullet-riddled and blown-up foes. Which is to say, pretty typical Statham fare. In fact, if you were to grab clips from the actor's last, oh, 20 movies, and watch them in random order, it would be tough to tell what painfully broken bone and what bullet to the forehead was from which film.

This one's actually a remake of an old '70s Charles Bronson movie. The basic premise—a suddenly remorseful hit man mentors the son of a guy he killed—has stayed the same. It's just the various killings that have been reimagined and given a fresh coat of gratuitous violence.

The Mechanic does have a message to offer. And it too fits the Statham standard: If you're a heartless murderer, don't go getting all mushy and sentimental just 'cause you shot your old friend in the chest. It might lead to problems.

See? Both a plot and a point! Add to that writhingly explicit sex scenes, a murky canal full of alcohol and drugs, several odd story holes and an ending you can see coming from about a half hour in. It's an instant action flick—that to be watchable would require far more repairs than even the most skilled mechanic (of the film editor variety) could ever make.

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