Since his breakout role as a modern action icon in The Transporter, Jason Statham has played similarly steely-eyed badasses time and again, including in franchises like The Expendables and The Fast and the Furious. Given Statham’s real-life martial arts skill, rugged good looks and undeniable charisma, it’s no wonder that every studio in Hollywood is dying to build an ongoing series of films around the international superstar. However, as is known to happen in the business, this thirst for long-term profits can often result in films that are so devoid of purpose or substance that they may as well not exist at all.
Take The Mechanic, for example. The 2011 film – itself a remake of a 1972 release starring Charles Bronson (Death Wish) – made just $29 million domestically against a production budget of $40 million, but its $62 million worldwide cume was apparently strong enough for Summit Entertainment to eventually develop a sequel. Since the first film centers on a mercenary who specializes in making the deaths of his victims look like accidents, no doubt the company saw the potential for another crowd-pleaser on the level of the Transporter films.
Alas, Mechanic: Resurrection fails to live up to its namesake and inject some life into the fledgling franchise. Statham reprises his role as Arthur Bishop, who has put his deadly past behind him to live the quiet life. That all changes (of course) when an encounter with a beautiful stranger (Jessica Alba) leads him to return to his lethal profession, at the behest of a friend-turned-foe (Sam Hazeldine). From there, the film sees Bishop forced to commit a series of “accidental” assassinations, all the while trying to find a way to rescue his newfound love.
Longtime fans of Statham’s work are likely expecting more of his signature over-the-top action to compensate for the generic, cliché-ridden setup, but Mechanic: Resurrection doesn’t even deliver on that front. Aside from a standout sequence involving a glass-bottom pool, the film has nothing memorable or clever to bring to the proceedings. Moreover, the action is so tame and predictable that it might as well have been rated PG-13, leaving little for hardcore action fans to cling to. There is a point in Mechanic: Resurrection where it could have evolved into a slasher film of sorts, with Bishop as the relentless killer taking out his prey. Yet, even this angle goes nowhere.
Because the entire film hinges on the flimsy relationship between Statham and Alba’s characters, Mechanic: Resurrection doesn’t have much of an emotional foundation to stand on, and fans have no reason to care about any of the disconnected missions Bishop is forced to embark on. It certainly doesn’t help that the film is only the latest in Alba’s listless tour of the action genre. The actress can certainly stare blankly with the best of them, but all her experience in front of the camera hasn’t improved her acting prowess one bit.
As for Michelle Yeoh and Tommy Lee Jones, the veteran performers essentially show up here to make a paycheck and are thoroughly wasted with no opportunity to add anything to the plodding story. In fact, the latter doesn’t even show up until the film’s final half-hour, sporting a soul patch and an earring that indicate his character would be far more colorful than he actually is. Sadly, Jones looks about as bored and clueless as to what he’s doing in subpar sequel as moviegoers will likely be by that late point in the film.
The bright spot, as usual, is Statham, who does what he can to bring his action-hero swagger to the role for the second time, but the unimaginative direction and meandering script do little to set itself apart from the actor’s prolific filmography. Those looking for a taste of what Statham can do onscreen are better off checking out one of his earlier films or re-watching more well-regarded Statham-led releases like The Transporter, Crank or The Bank Job. For all but those who hold The Mechanic in particularly high esteem, Mechanic: Resurrection isn’t worth the price of admission.
Even an international superstar like Jason Statham can't save Mechanic: Resurrection from being a bland, pointless and uninspired action sequel.