Performances hold “The Mechanic” together

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By Tressa Eckermann, Senior Staff Writer

I have a theory about Jason Statham movies – the worse the movie, the more times we see him shirtless in the trailer.

In his newest effort “The Mechanic,” we don’t see Stratham shirtless very often, so based on my theory, it actually wasn’t that bad of a movie. I’m sure no one is going into this movie thinking it will be the next “Citizen Kane,” but for what it is – a bloody, sometimes cheesy popcorn movie  – it hits the mark (pardon the pun.)

Statham plays Arthur Bishop, a mechanic, better known as a hitman. He’s a man who fixes problems, hence the nickname. When he’s hired to kill his mentor Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland) he takes the job. When it’s done, (after several shots of Statham standing around looking pensive and guilty) Harry’s angry, estranged and unsuspecting son Steve (Ben Foster) shows up wanting to be trained as an assassin.

Nobody does angry quite like Ben Foster. Most times, he plays that character who pops up in a movie long enough to intimidate the main characters with a really scary, barely contained rage (remember films like “3:10 to Yuma” or “Alpha Dog?”)

In “The Mechanic,” there is nothing contained about his rage. He’s mad about a lot of things, none of which are really explained. But let’s face it, we wouldn’t be watching a shoot-em-up action movie if we wanted to deal with feelings. There’s something about his rugged, strangely attractive appearance in the film. Though you’re not really meant to like his character, there is something in his wide, green eyes that makes him instantly likable, kind of like the orphaned puppy he adopts early in the movie.

Statham can hold down a movie, and he’s proven with movies like “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” “Snatch” or “The Bank Job” that if he’s given the right material he’s actually a pretty decent actor. But the truth is, he’s at his best when playing the stoic action hero, which is exactly what “The Mechanic” asks of him. There’s a lot of walking away from explosions in slow motion.

We aren’t dealing with a movie that’s going to become a classic. It’s a good popcorn movie that’s an hour and 40 minutes long. There are some good action scenes that got me nervous a couple times, and had the decent-sized audience buzzing (a rooftop chase, about halfway through the movie is the standout.) It’s a bloody movie, but for people who grew up on the early 90s action movies, there’s nothing here that’s going to take away an appetite. There’s some nice humor too, mostly from Foster’s one-liners and the rather short performance by Sutherland.

As for my theory about Statham movies, this falls somewhere in the middle. It’s got a lot of great performances, nice direction and passable action scenes. Just take it for what it is and you’ll enjoy it.

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