Looking at the trailers for Mechanic: Resurrection, you would be forgiven for completely forgetting what The Mechanic even was. The first film turned the most miniscule of profits back in 2011, so the machinations necessary for a sequel took a little bit longer than usual. It was only a matter of time before Jason Statham returned in a sequel nobody wanted to a remake no one asked for. This sequel is a marked departure from the first, grounded less in exploring its characters’ personal demons and more in the utter lunacy of watching Jason Statham murder everything with a pulse.
After the events of the first film, contract killer Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) has been hiding out in Thailand at a beachfront resort run by Michelle Yeoh. One night Bishop rescues humanitarian Gina (Jessica Alba) from her abusive beau, only to discover Gina has actually been sent to find and bait Bishop into carrying out three jobs for arms dealer Crain (Sam Hazeldine). Bishop and Gina’s budding/forced relationship, combined with Bishop’s long-standing bad blood with Crain, compel him to do the jobs. What follows is a globe-trotting adventure to Malaysia, Australia and Eastern Europe as Bishop kills rival arms dealers in exchange for Gina’s life.
The entire plot hinges upon a romance that both our main characters admit is purely for show. Gina explains Crain’s whole plan the moment she meets Bishop: He’s supposed to fall in love with her, at which point Crain will kidnap Gina and force Bishop to do his bidding. (Crain’s goons just wait around and watch until this happens. It could potentially take weeks or months; fortunately for them, it happens in a day.) Bishop nods in agreement, and the only reason he goes along with this whole charade is that Gina runs a shelter for human trafficking victims in Cambodia. So for the whole rest of the film, as Bishop and Gina profess their love for one another in front of Crain and his flunkies, it’s all an act. Bishop isn’t killing these men for the woman he loves; he’s doing it for the kids. (Eventually they do fall for each other, but it’s developed even less than their initial ruse.)
Mechanic: Resurgence takes the premise of the first film — that of a meticulous contract killer constructing elaborate plans in order to carry out jobs without leaving a trace — and teases it out to a cartoonish extreme. Bishop’s first job is to infiltrate a Malaysian prison and kill an African warlord (Femi Elufowoju Jr). This job requires a fake dice tattoo on Bishop’s face, plastic explosive hidden in a pack of chewing gum and a canister of shark repellant, which apparently is a real thing you can actually buy. It’s a fun sequence, as is the one that follows it, in which Bishop travels to Sydney and kills a human trafficker by destroying his high-rise swimming pool.
These two jobs give Statham a chance to play Mission: Impossible, and for a while the film skates by on being a dumb-yet-competent piece of action cinema. Statham brings his trademark stoic intensity to the part, but at times it seems like he’d rather be jumping off buildings than delivering dialogue. He speeds through many of his lines here, in weird contrast to everyone else honestly trying to bring life to their bog standard roles. Jessica Alba comes off the best in this regard. Not content to simply play the damsel in distress, Alba turns Gina into a character with convictions and motivations of her own. Alba probably insisted on a handful of scenes in which her character teaches Cambodian kids how to read.
After Bishop’s second job, the film seems to realize there’s no way to top what’s come before, so it never really tries. Job #3 finds Bishop hunting arms dealer Max Adams, played by Tommy Lee Jones. Jones’ character shows up with a ridiculous backstory and an outfit to match, but once he throws a wrench in the mechanic’s plans, Mechanic 2: The Mechanicking turns into a grim murderfest. Not that it hadn’t been up to this point, but at least director Dennis Gansel had a sense of humor and panache about it.
The finale gives up on any sense of spectacle, as Bishop shoots every one of Crain’s six thousand henchmen. And the goons Bishop doesn’t shoot get grenades spin-kicked into their chests. It’s a grisly ending to what had up to this point been a breezy, inventive little action thriller. This is either meant as an indictment of action films glorifying violence, or a tacit admission that the writers just plain ran out of fun ways for Bishop to kill people.
It’s a fun ride for what it is, but it in no way resembles either of the films that precede it. Aside from the vague premise of Jason Statham studying his targets before he kills them, there’s no discernable reason this film needed to be Mechanic Harder. You could have put Statham in a suit and given him a car, and this would’ve been a perfectly acceptable Transporter sequel. Hell, set him on fire and tell him each of his targets has a fire extinguisher and we could have finally gotten a decent Crank 3. As it is, Mechanic: Resurrection is a passable Jason Statham sequel and, frankly, Jason Statham Sequel is the title this film deserves.
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