It’s impossible to call ‘Mechanic: Resurrection’ a “good” movie with a straight face. No, that’s not right at all. It’s far too stupid for that, downright ludicrous even. And yet… I can’t pretend that the movie isn’t quite fun in its idiocy.
The entire film makes little sense. The dialogue is horrendous. The plot twists and action beats frequently insult the audience’s intelligence. It clearly wasn’t developed as an actual sequel to ‘The Mechanic’ (a remake of a hard-boiled Charles Bronson picture with added Statham silliness), but had that label added later for added brand recognition. The bulk of the actors appear to be embarrassed that they’re even here. Nevertheless, boredom is rarely a factor in this slapstick stupid run through action movie clichés.
At the center of it all is Jason Statham somehow keeping a straight face while clearly aware of how absurd this whole thing is. If you want to have a big laugh in a movie theater while watching stuff blow up, ‘Mechanic: Resurrection’ is for you. Granted, I doubt most folks involved with the movie actually planned on those laughs, but whoo-boy they never stop coming!
The movie starts out with Jason Statham’s super assassin Arthur Bishop enjoying retirement, but you’re not going to believe this… He gets pulled back into the game! (Calm down, these things happen.) The guy was just hanging out in Rio being a respectful citizen, then the next thing you know some lackeys of one of those ruthless, suited, international criminals (Sam Hazeldine) track him down, leading to a ludicrous sequence involving Statham landing on hang glider. After that, he hides out on a secret island with his friend Michelle Yeoh (who oddly participates in zero action scenes despite significant skill in that field) and falls instantly, madly in love with Jessica Alba. As soon as Statham gets the hots for Alba, Hazeldine’s next wave of henchmen arrive, kidnap the girl, and blackmail Statham into performing three increasingly ridiculous and elaborate assassinations to spare her life.
Yeah, it’s one of those movies, but to be honest, quite a fun one. The more low-key action of ‘The Mechanic’ has been replaced the by cartoon insanity of a low rent ‘Mission: Impossible’ sequel. Want to see Jason Statham blow a hole in a swimming pool 75 stories in the air to cause a human trafficker to fall to his death? Perhaps you’d like to see him get sent to the only prison in the world that lets inmates bring in outside gum and cigarettes upon admission so that he can sneak in plastic explosives for an elaborate escape? Yup, that’s the type of goofball action insanity that takes place in ‘Mechanic: Resurrection’. What was one of Statham’s more grounded action flicks has now been expanded into a franchise that can match the goofiness of the ‘Transporter’ and ‘Crank’ movies, only without the built-in sense of irony.
Director Dennis Gansel isn’t winking in this silly sequel like the folks who made those previous Statham classics did. He plays this straight and has a surprisingly large budget at his disposal despite a script that would make most screenwriting gurus cry. Thankfully, the filmmaker’s complete disinterest in storytelling mechanics and characterization means that rarely a few minutes pass between action scenes, which grow in scale and insanity every single damn time the Stath picks up a gun.
The world is cartoonishly absurd, with little logic or character consistency. One moment Alba appears helpless, the next she’s helping Statham beat up baddies. At one point Statham narrowly escapes a botched rescue attempt on a boat, then later returns to the exact same scenario and wins despite no change of plan or resources. You kind of just need to let it all wash over you. Thinking about any plot point or character for five consecutive seconds is sure to make your brain hurt, which is likely why none of the screenwriters bothered to do so. By the time Tommy Lee Jones pops up with multiple earrings and a soul patch, you just have to accept the silliness and laugh it up. Not that Jones is laughing, of course. It’s just nice to see that he’s willing to look like a cool dad rocker to play a third tier baddie in a Jason Statham effort. Maybe he’s finally not taking himself so seriously? Probably not. It’s likely a money thing… but still… it’s nice to pretend.
The main reason to see the movie, beyond all the laughable stupidity and genuinely amusing/surprisingly large scale action, is of course for His High Lord Jason of Statham. He somehow deadpans his way through the thing to give another charmingly grizzled and oddly credible performance. The guy truly is the best action star of his generation. There’s a reason why he keeps getting these flicks made and people keep coming to see them. He’s also the only person involved who seems to understand how hilariously stupid the whole thing is. By committing to it with deadpan intensity, he delivers another winkingly self-conscious performance even though his collaborators don’t seem to be in on the joke this time.
That’s what makes Statham (and to an extent The Rock) an ideal B-movie action star for this era. No one takes these movies seriously anymore except for the folks hired to make them. It’s nice to see an actor aware of why the audience likes to giggle it up at these macho cartoons. Obviously, it’s better when the movies themselves share that self-aware wit. However, there’s also something charmingly naïve in the glorious idiocy of ‘Mechanic: Resurrection’. A team of adults actually took this seriously, and that’s pretty funny. The movie is certainly never boring despite its flaws. Given that the target audience will likely have a few drinks in their bellies before they even show up to the theater, it’s safe to say they’ll have a good time. This ain’t a great movie or even a particularly good one, but my lord is it ever fun when viewed just a few shades into the ironic. Nothing wrong with that. Especially during an August brain melt.