Jason Statham, I warrant, puts a lot of effort into his training regimen. Sure, there’s a decent level of Hollywood stunt magic involved whenever he knocks bad guys around in his movies, but I’ll freely admit he’s very good at it. What he doesn’t seem to put much effort into, though, is picking good movies to showcase those skills.
Occasionally he’ll trip on one, but for every The Bank Job and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (or Spy, which let him actually show off some admirable comedic skills), there’s far more duds like Killer Elite and Transporter 3.
Mechanic: Resurrection fits squarely into the latter category. While not Statham’s worst by any stretch, the film makes even his most die-hard fans work to find much of a coherent plot, anything in the way of interesting characters, or even a good amount of worthwhile action.
Statham, reprising his role from 2011’s The Mechanic (one of his above-average efforts), is Arthur Bishop, a hitman who can kill anyone and make it look like an accident. He’s been hiding out in Rio and then in Thailand, but his archenemy Crain (Sam Hazeldine) finds him and blackmails him into knocking off three bad guys. The blackmail comes in the form of bikini-clad Gina (Jessica Alba), who naturally runs a school for Thai orphans (sympathetic character alert!). After a whirlwind courtship (of less than 24 hours) that ends with Gina’s abduction, Bishop has no choice but to take Crain’s job offer, lest the girl gets it.
The globetrotting continues (from Malaysia to Australia to Bulgaria) as Bishop carries out the assassinations, with occasional side trips to try to dispatch Crain. The hits themselves are decent fun, giving Statham a chance to flex his muscles while also giving the audience what they came for, but we also have no doubt in our minds that the elaborate “accidents” can be pulled off softens the stakes entirely.
German director Dennis Gansel certainly has a flair for tightly-shot fight sequences; it’s only when the pace slows down (which is often) that he has trouble. Mechanic: Resurrection is essentially two films–one with the handful of ten-minute slam-bang action pieces and the other with endless scenes of Bishop strolling alongside Gina on a beach or idly talking with his ally Mei (Michelle Yeoh, in a hopelessly wasted performance).
Much of the blame, however, falls on screenwriters Philip Shelby and Tony Mosher. Both are relative novices, and it shows. It doesn’t take much effort at all to write, “Bishop punches one guy, shoots another, and then shoots two more”, but when it comes to actual dialogue and a decent story, they seem to have no clue.
It’s readily apparent that everyone involved in Mechanic: Resurrection is only in it for the paycheck, including Tommy Lee Jones, who is wasted more than Yeoh, in a thankless extended cameo. Granted people aren’t flocking to Statham movies (if they flock at all) for the witty banter, but there’s only so much ass-kicking you can take before you start feeling like you’re the one taking the beating.