By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes
By popular request, Holmes and I went to see The Mechanic, a film about a hit man who kills his friend, and then takes in his friend’s son as his protégé. Jason Statham stars as Arthur Bishop, the hit man, and Ben Foster plays Steve McKenna, the pup he takes in. So here’s what an author/bellydancer and a man with experience in intelligence and covert operations have to say about this film. . . .
Overall, we think The Mechanic will rightfully appeal to people who like lots of action and explosions in their movies. There are several fun scenes that we won’t comment on because we don’t want to ruin the movie for you. However, Holmes and I agree the whole premise has a few drawbacks.
The first thing we spotted is that you don’t wait at the bottom of a pool to kill a guy, especially when you only have a small bottle of compressed air to breathe off of. What if that guy decides to shower or cozy up to one of his molls before he swims? You suffocate. And with four guys wielding machine guns outside the pool? No. You slip in when no one’s there, put a toxin in his swim goggles, and get gone, because the best place to be when your enemy dies is in another country.
Ben Foster as Steve McKenna
We also agree that no professional in any business knowingly pairs up with a mentally unstable, reckless individual. Even if Arthur had a momentary lapse of judgment out of compassion for his friend’s son, the first time the protégé deliberately disobeyed instructions, he’d be out the door wearing cement shoes. Professionals involved in any aspect of covert operations, legal or illegal, avoid associating with people who are obviously self-destructive because they just don’t recruit people who are going to burn down their world.
Now to our individual comments. I’m leaving this mostly to Holmes because of his expertise in covert operations.
As an author, I appreciated the smooth shifts in the antagonist focus. The Mechanic sorts through the bad guys and the good guys by bringing you along with the one consistent good guy. It’s an effective and artful way to traverse the twists of intrigue without dropping you into a high-speed blender.
And speaking of blenders, I liked that scene. You’ll know what I mean when you see it. Holmes liked it, as well, and thought it was one of the more plausible scenes in the film.
The Fantasy: Handsome Arthur Bishop Always Wins
I don’t have any comments as a dancer, but as a woman, I can say that Arthur Bishop is a most appealing anti-hero. Very powerful and sexy with his own brand of integrity. Reality check to the ladies, though. Having a hit man for your love interest would have to seriously suck, no matter how handsome or smooth or classy he is, and most of them aren’t. I mean, this is a guy who values cash above human life. Not only that, he’s gone all the time, he can’t say where or how long, and don’t even think about calling him. He’s the one going places and doing wild things. You’re the one working as a waitress in a sleazy bar, just hoping he’ll call.
This movie is not for everyone. It’s an action flick, and there’s more action than flick here. The writers, producers, and directors seemed to follow the tried and true approach of adding more explosions, gunshots, and noise whenever the writing became difficult.
I would say that the acting is better than the script. The conversations appear to be some writer’s first impression of what conversations in the real world might actually be like. Given the vast number of unemployed writers who have life experience and social contacts, I find the lack of polish and effort regrettable. With the bare minimum of dialogue taping together the action scenes, this was the script version of Queasy Cam.
Also, in movies, as in real life, chase scenes and shootouts are much more dramatic after a calm interval. Part of what makes action interesting in an action movie is that contrast. The Mechanic would be better by a whole notch if they left out 10 minutes of violence and replaced it with 10 more minutes of character development, setting, and dialogue.
I thought the sex was just enough that I would not bring any of my nieces to this movie. The visual and verbal allusions to sadomasochistic sex do fit the hit man’s character, but, in my view, they create a smaller audience for this movie. If you’re a dad, and you find yourself willing to share these scenes with your daughter, consider giving your daughter up for adoption while there’s still time for her to develop sanity. For that matter, I wouldn’t bring any guy or gal under the age of fifteen to this movie.
Now, if you’re curious about the plausibility of this movie, here’s my take. Let’s not bother with the procedural errors because you weren’t hoping that this movie would be an assassination manual, and if you were, I wouldn’t want to help you, anyway. . . . So the plausibility of this highly glamorous, 5-star living Murder Incorporated racket is nill. Why would you pay $50 million to kill somebody when you could pay 20 sleazebags $10k each and see who gets him first?
The idea of some big organization with several teams of assassins all working together in a collegial environment, completing hits at a breakneck pace (no pun intended)—it just doesn’t happen. With that many people involved, the risk of them turning state’s evidence would be beyond control, not to mention the supply and demand issue. These are killers who don’t share a goal or a value. Their only value is money, and there’s no way to hold a group of people together without some other common value. Organized crime struggles with this every day. If you want to know the reality, read the news about Mexican drug cartels. They are what happens when the only common ideology is wealth.
With a little more character, setting and script development The Mechanic could have been a .357, but, as it is, we have to rate it a .38 special. (Click here for rating system.) There were enough creative action scenes (action as in murder) to make the movie worth seeing for action movie enthusiasts. It has lots of nice explosions and creative use of such things as a bus, a garbage truck, and a garbage disposal. It’s certainly an improvement over the original Charles Bronson/Jan Michael-Vincent version, but if you require plausibility in a movie, stay home and read a good book.
If you’re interested in learning about the life of a real hit man, check out the book Blood Relation. In it, journalist Eric Konigsberg interviews his uncle Harold “Kayo” Konigsberg who was a freelance hit man for various Mafia families and is responsible for more than 20 murders.