New on DVD: The Mechanic

By Robert B. Desalvo

Jason Statham stars as an elite assassin in this remake of a 1972 action film.

Director: Simon West Rating: R Studio: Sony Pictures Stars:Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland

This remake of 1972’s The Mechanic stars Jason Statham as Arthur Bishop, an elite assassin with a talent for cleanly eliminating targets and making their deaths look like accidents, suicides or done by someone else. The original featured Charles Bronson in a long, dialogue-free opening as Bronson methodically set up for his target in an apartment across the street. This remake wisely doesn’t try to replicate that classic sequence, but instead has Bishop hiding at the bottom of his target’s pool disguised in black scuba gear with only his shiny watch visible. When the victim swims down to fetch the watch, Bishop holds him until he “accidentally” drowns. Yes, they don’t call him a “mechanic” for nothing.

Donald Sutherland stars as Bishop’s mentor and close friend, Harry, who is marked for elimination by the mysterious organization that employs Bishop. Mr. Mechanic wants to exact revenge and reluctantly takes on Harry’s son, Steve (Ben Foster), as his apprentice since they both seem to have the same goal. Bishop trains Steve to kill another mechanic from a different agency, and Steve succeeds after a long, messy struggle and much effort. The two continue to work together on new contracts and make a dynamic deadly duo until Steve begins to suspect that Bishop knows more about his father’s murder than he has been told. The tension builds until master faces off against apprentice in an explosive finale that packs a few surprises, even if you remember what happened to Bronson and his sidekick in the original.

Almost every classic horror film has been remade at this point, so it was only a matter of time before filmmakers dipped into the fertile waters of the action genre. Nothing beats the original—remakes rarely do—but there is enough outrageous action and rat-a-tat thrills in The Mechanic to keep fans pumped. Statham is right at home here—alternating between being a dangerous killer and enjoying a Zen-like peace at home—and Foster proves that he can play tough without bulking up like other action stars. As far as tune-ups of classic action films are concerned, this one is firing on all cylinders.

Best extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain deleted scenes and the “Tools of the Trade” featurette, which takes you inside the action.


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