The Mechanic Blu-ray review

The mighty Jason Statham stars in this violent remake of the 70s Charles Bronson movie, The Mechanic. Here’s Duncan’s review…

The love affair between myself, Jason Statham and Lionsgate has been a steady, constant and passionate part of my life now for several years. With Lionsgate handling such UK releases as The Bank Job, Crank: High Voltage, Transporter 3, and currently both Blitz and The Mechanic, it’s provided me with many a muscular fix and its loyalty to our home-grown action star should always be acknowledged.

My adoration of the man they call Statham, meanwhile, has been noted at length on this very website, but all that aside, The Mechanic was already an appealing concept, with its hit man theme, promise of action violence, solid support cast in the form of Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland and Tony Goldwyn and all at the helm of one Simon West. West’s film career started outstandingly with Con Air, ably followed by The General’s Daughter and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a solid trio that then saw him leave the big screen for the better part of the last decade to work in TV.

Now, at the expense of repeating the words of Simon’s cinematic review of The Mechanic, I can’t emphasise enough how much we love Con Air. It’s not just one of the best Nicolas Cage films, it’s one of the greatest action movies ever made and, for me, one of my favourite films of all time. I was blown away when I first saw it at the cinema, permanently putting Simon West on my radar as I loyally followed the start of his career. He even managed to make a decent blockbuster out of the usual computer game-to-movie poisoned chalice, with Tomb Raider (though I may be in a minority with that opinion).

So, with West back to big screen action, directing Statham to punch, shoot and destroy, it’s fair to say that my expectations were above average, but thankfully, The Mechanic is great fun.

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The most important aspect of the film to point out is that, unlike the constant trickle of action from the triple Statham franchises of The Transporter, Crank and The Expendables, The Mechanic (there’s a whole lot of ‘The’ in his movie titles) is much more of a thriller in its pacing and use of set pieces. This might prove a little disheartening at first, as, after an initial opening that sees submersible Statham, shirtless Statham and an ingeniously comical assassination, all in less than three minutes, the film then gives way to the narrative.

Initially this caused me to have a panicked thought: what if The Stath’s search for more grownup action movies, means he’s less likely to shoot multiple bad guys to death in the face? Mercifully, the answer was not at all, as The Mechanic wisely chooses the slow burn approach, with the entire last half of the movie devoted to some particularly gruesome and blood-soaked encounters.

Heads and bodies are smashed against walls, stabbed, thrown under moving vehicles, thrown off buildings, rammed by moving vehicles and generally Stathamed to death, in one case, even sexed, though not to death. But I have no doubt that it’s an ability he actually possesses. He even provides an instructional voiceover throughout the film on how best to kill people, which is something missing from most people’s lives, I’d wager, and made me wonder if there wasn’t a potential business plan in making a Jason Statham day to day guide to living.

Fans of Archer can also take glee in The Stath’s choice of a black turtleneck for a mission, though the shade of black is unspecified.

The stunts and action are refreshingly grounded and free from the lazy clutches of CGI and noticeably so. I’ve lost count over the years of how many behind-the-scenes documentaries proudly claim to have avoided using CG, only to have the finished shot either look like it was tampered with, or for me to have assumed it was that way.

It’s great to see Simon West back where he belongs, adeptly juggling thrills, humour and performances, utilizing the clever contrast between Statham growling and scowling, against Ben Foster’s unhinged angst. The two actors make a fine pairing, as the reluctant character of Arthur Bishop takes an apprentice assassin under his wing, a move which results in the bulk of the film’s tension, as Foster’s Steve McKenna constantly feels on the verge of self-destruction.

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Elsewhere, Tony Goldwyn provides the obligatory (if you live in our home) “He did it!” chorus, as a man who may, or may not, be entirely trustworthy. I do wish Hollywood would stop casting such incredibly notorious screen rotters time after time. If you put Tony Goldwyn in a film with twists and turns, then the audience will be pouring judgement on him from the outset, regardless of his character’s merits. If anything, casting should play with stereotypical typecasting. It worked wonders for Christopher Walken in Man On Fire and Sean Bean in Flightplan (even if my brain still suspected them of foul play as the credits rolled and they’d been nothing but lovely throughout).

No doubt, for most people The Mechanic is a three star film, but for me it was a step above. I even quizzed my less Stath-biased other half on the rating it should receive and she agreed whole heartedly. 

At ninety-three minutes, it’s well worth anyone’s time and marks a welcome return to the big screen for Simon West. Here’s hoping that West’s follow-up, Medallion, which sees him reunited with Con Air stars Nicolas Cage and M.C. Gainey, proves just as entertaining.

The Disc

The Blu-ray transfer looks great and shows every individual hair that makes up Statham’s stubble with frightening clarity. The original film grain is still intact too, especially in low light, in keeping with its cinematic quality.

The 5.1 soundtrack punched out with ease, resulting in the volume being lowered at times, especially towards the end of the film, where the action seems to double in explosions and gunfire.

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The only features are a handful of the usual deleted and extended scenes and a behind-the-scenes featurette, which is far too short (at just under eight minutes), especially given West’s enthusiasm for the film and the great footage of both Statham and Foster throwing themselves down the side of a building. It merely provides a whistle stop glimpse into some of the main stunts that I could’ve seen plenty more of.


4 stars

The Mechanic is out now on Blu-ray and available from the Den Of Geek Store.


3 out of 5