Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Mechanic: Imitation of life

The problem with Simon West’s The Mechanic isn’t that it’s amoral, exactly, but that it’s false, affected because it knows how to replicate the look of hit man movies—cool, aware, brooding—but can’t truly muster the inner life, the existential angst that catches up with even the most elusive. Jason Statham being Jason Statham doesn’t help, though his lightness saves the film from the pits of self-serious gravitas that sink many modern action thrillers, but the problem is much deeper than the stone-faced king of B-action.

It didn’t have to be, of course, because The Mechanic could have been a sleazy-fun gun flick, with explosive outbursts, a spiderweb plot, and satirical distance, but since West suffocates that picture in the folds of a bloated depressive, we’re left with a film that’s too boring to be light fun and too negligent to be taken seriously, an amoral wasteland haunted by spectral sociopaths that the film refuses to judge, not least for their well-funded reign of terror over a parade of minorities with wrap sheets intended to unfurrow our brows and solicit our groundling cheers. The twist is how predictable it all is. It’s hard to thoroughly rebuke The Mechanic when all you can do is yawn.

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