The Mechanic (Sony)
Jason Statham is the veteran hitman and Ben Foster his undisciplined protégé in the no-nonsense remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson action thriller. Arthur Bishop (Statham) specializes in assassinations that don’t look like murder; he doesn’t like to advertise his work that way. Steve McKenna (Foster), the bad-boy son of Arthur’s mentor (Donald Sutherland), doesn’t care if he draws attention to himself. In fact, he prefers to leave his victims as statements, which doesn’t exactly make them a natural team. But then Arthur feels a debt toward Steve. After all, he did kill Steve’s father. It was just another assignment and, by Arthur’s code, a justified killing. But that doesn’t mean it sits well with him.
Director Simon West has a track record for sloppy, silly action movies (“Con Air” anyone?) but perhaps his recent focus on TV has given him a better sense of discipline, which in this age of gratuitously outlandish action and confused spectacles of property damage is something of a lost art. Which doesn’t necessarily make the pulp revenge drama of “The Mechanic” especially remarkable, but it is a minor pleasure to see an action film that makes a virtue of lean, mean action stripped to the essence.