The Mechanic Review
The FilmRecently, the comedian Stewart Lee considered the differences in his chosen art-form over the ages by satirising the fact that nostalgia has now become a staple for many of his fellow artistes. Unfortunately, I can't prevent myself from falling into the same trap, as I consider the remake of Michael Winner's The Mechanic and appreciate how the passage of 39 years has replaced Charles Bronson with Jason Statham, and the poster boy of patronising sexists everywhere (calm down dear) with Simon West.Craggy Charlie boy, all saggy eyes and comatose menace, has been succeeded by a man who has made a career out of a determined walk and a knack for winning choices in his projects. Similarly, a man who is best employed stuffing his face at the expense of News International has had his past colonised by the man responsible for empty headed guilty pleasures like the magnificent Con Air. There's no real coherent point in this musing of mine other than that the usual undeniable misery of the remake is not always borne out by the facts.
The re-tooled Mechanic if it has a deeper meaning, and believe me that's a big if, muses on the passing of generations. The eventual sense of redundancy that comes to us all, those moments where technology no longer makes any sense, where you realise that you say the things that your parents used to say about young people and where everything suddenly is revealed as too fast, too instant and not comfortable enough. I bang on about this because the best thing about this film is when Donald Sutherland appears on screen to evoke these ideas and thoughts, to lend a sense of decency or import that the rest of the film has no aspiration to.Sutherland is on screen for the opening 20 minutes or so before succumbing to his redundancy. In iconic terms, he gives way to the Stath and the rest of the film considers Stath as he mentors an apprentice killer, Ben Foster, much as Sutherland had mentored him. This seed of dramatic potency is bestowed upon the film by one of the screen's greatest actors, and is soon forgotten in a succession of elaborate slayings, explosions, carefully vigorous rumpy pumpy and all that stuff that young people seem to like so much.
Still, one thing has stayed the same with time. The Mechanic is a B-movie for a star with a very marketable appeal, and director West builds on his lead's charisma by ensuring that the package provided here is beautifully shot, edited tightly and luxuriant as both a visual and auditory experience. You'll see plenty of supposed modern action thrillers that have less substance and less thrills than West's remake, and you'll see many that have precious little entertainment that you'll remember for very long at all, this is not the case here. The Mechanic is a very competent and reasonable waste of your valuable time and far better than the original 1972 Winner opus.Still for those of us who remember what thrillers from the 70's could be like and what artists like Sutherland can serve up if given more than a cameo, the golden era of the past will appeal more than this able and entertaining film. In the end, The Mechanic proves and simultaneously disproves that things aren't what they used to be by exceeding its original inspiration whilst bearing no comparison with what great thrillers and great actors used to give us.
Tech SpecsPresented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with an AVC/MPEG 4 encode, The Mechanic does not look over sharp or haloed. Colours do seem a little over warm to my eye and the deepest black levels are a little uniform as well which leads this stunningly shot film to seem a little unnatural and not as film-like as you may hope for. The file-size for the transfer is just under 22GB and the transfer runs at 23.98 frames per second.The only language options here are English with hard of hearing subtitles in addition to a lossless 5.1 track. The master audio mix greatly helps a rather excellent choice of music on the film's score, and effects move across the channels wholly in keeping with the action. Dialogue is mixed and reproduced clearly so that the somewhat guttural Statham is always understandable.
Special FeaturesThe disc loads with a mixture of trailers for other Momentum releases such as the current cinema release of Blitz before going to that confectionery advert with monks. The main menu arrives with a loop of scenes from the film and easily navigable animated menus underneath. Extras wise this is an economical release, although there is plenty of HD content of what is offered here. The deleted scenes can be chosen individually or played as an 11 minute reel. There is a particularly good longer version of the coffee shop sequence which layers the Sutherland Statham relationship far more interestingly than the shorter version in the film.
There is a short featurette which includes chat about stunts, blowing shit up and boys enjoying boys things. Finally, a standard def trailer for the film completes the extras on the disc.
SummaryIt's violent, testosterone driven and definitely above average. The blu-ray is an acceptable treatment for this hit-man thriller.
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