Half a Transporter 2 (or 4 out of 10)
Directed by Dennis Gansel
Mechanic: Resurrection Review:
Knowledge and understanding are essential elements of human nature – the thing which separates us from animals – but without craft or skill they’re pointless. The ability to see the world but not interact with it is an existential hell most can’t imagine, a mind without body.
It would be a stretch to say watching Mechanic: Resurrection is an experience on that level (among other things it’s more body without mind than the other way around) but existential hell isn’t a bad way of describing the experience, for filmmakers as much as for audience. Imagine space aliens spending a lot of time observing people walking around on Earth and from that observation deciding to build a human being; all the parts are in more or less the right place but still there’s something fundamentally wrong about it.
Arthur Bishop (Statham) himself is a mind without body, that is a ghost. Or at least he would like everyone to believe that. The world’s greatest assassin died years earlier in a boat explosion and has been living quietly ever since, trying to leave that world behind.
So when a group of mercenaries show up on his door demanding he return to his killing ways, he does exactly what you’d expect from a professional trained in subtlety and never letting anyone know he was behind a murder. He beats up a bunch of people in public before jumping atop a passing cable car and riding it high enough to jump atop a passing hanglider.
This sort of thing is not just to be expected but applauded. The great joy of the Jason Statham movie, since at least Transporter 2 (the standard by which all Statham films should be judged), has been the ironic dissonance between how ludicrous the film is and how seriously he plays his part.
Statham himself certainly seems aware of this considering how well he skewered his own on-screen persona in other media. It makes it sound like he is doing nothing but the singular failure of other would-be action stars to fill his shoes in his franchises suggests otherwise. It’s also all a lie.
Despite such an… let’s call it inventive… opening, director Dennis Gansel is flat out muddled about what anyone wants from a Mechanic or even a Statham film. He and his four screenwriters realize the basic truths that a) the best part of the first film were the complicated assassination attempts, and b) Bishop needs some new reason to commit them besides money.
Thus, after a tremendously wacko opening sequence, the film descends into a slog as Bishop hides away in Thailand and meets Gina (Alba), the honey in a honey trap designed to get him back into his killing ways. Gansel deflates any potential tension from this (the first of many instances) by having Bishop understand and spell out exactly what she’s doing and why, setting us up for a surprising reversal of a standard action movie plot, which never comes.
Instead, despite knowing exactly what is going to happen and why Bishop does exactly what he’s expected to do, Mechanic: Resurrection – a brief movie to start with – bogs down into 30 excruciating minutes of Statham and Alba falling in love for no reason whatsoever except that the plot demands it. Statham and Alba have no chemistry together, they never act like people on the run from or worried about a murderous madman and the sudden movements from suspense to dancing and laughing at a bar are as out of proportion in the film as they are in this sentence.
Not that Gansel has any apparent use for Alba outside of the setup, or any actress at all. This is the kind of film which casts Michelle Yeo as a hospitality hostess.
As painful as it is to sit through at least once it’s done, the film is finally free to get back to its assassination planning and ridiculous action sequence ways, but it drops the ball there too. Except for the one truly inventive sequence involving a high rise swimming pool, even the assassinations are boring and boiler plate.
And for some reason Gansel keeps interrupting their flow to have Bishop attack his employer, get beaten back and go back to work. Sure, it adds action elements, but elements without use or inventiveness. Like the film itself, they exist because they exist, bodies without minds. Tommy Lee Jones shows up to add some life late in the game and he at least seems to realize how ridiculous the whole thing is, taking free rein to chew the scenery as much as possible.
But it’s too little, too late. Pointless in every conceivable definition of the word, Mechanic: Resurrection is a franchise which should have stayed dead.