A fair comparison to Jason Statham would be Kevin Smith. They both have a specialty, they both do it well, and they both have moderate success from loyal fans, but they never really make huge hits.
In Statham’s case, the specialty is the cool, confident tough guy. Best known for the insane Crank movies and the Transporter series, you kind of know what you’ll get with Statham, and it’s left to the rest of the cast to surprise you. His Latest, The Mechanic, is no exception.
A mechanic, in this movie, is a professional hitman. You have to be detached, prepared, and creative. Statham’s character, Arthur Bishop, is the best at his job. Until his next assignment is to kill someone he knows, and things finally start happening that he’s not 100% in control of.
Enter Ben Foster. Best known for 3:10 to Yuma, Foster is great at intensity and a feeling of explosive rage just simmering under the surface until he can’t hold it back any more. Foster plays Steve McKenna, Bishop’s new friend/assistant/apprentice. He doesn’t always follow instructions though, and his more reckless approach leads to some rough situations that we know Bishop would have avoided.
Statham is good as always, but Foster is really good here. He seems dangerous, not in the professional way like Bishop, but in a deranged kind of way. He keeps the audience off guard.
The action starts small and escalates through the movie. It’s not a summer blockbuster, so it’s not huge action. But it’s good, particularly a fight with a 6’7″ gay assassin. It’s awesome. And as my friend and I both agreed, there is very good use of Mini Anden’s brief screen time. Not really a love interest–she’s more of a lust interest.
The biggest, and maybe only, complaint I have is that the ending of the movie is a bit conventional. I was very excited when it looked like they’d have the guts to end the movie in a very unexpected way…until the hero saves the day and rides off into the sunset as expected. I didn’t really WANT the hero to die or anything. I’m just saying that, as the audience, it’s exciting when something unexpected happens. And it didn’t in this case. However, the expected was still solidly entertaining.