When I think of an action movie I think of something that is fast paced, something that is eye-catching, and something that is exciting. The trailers for these films always make them look like something that is just going to be a feast for your eyes. Every once in a while though an action movie forgets its genre and decides to try and take itself much more seriously. Sometimes it works. But sometimes it falls flat on its face.
There are certainly moments and scenes in every action movie where they have to develop the story, provide character backstories, etc. But it’s generally not a very good idea to take over two thirds of the movie to do so before you get to the action. This is the kind of movie that definitely takes itself much more seriously than it deserves to be taken. It’s slow. It’s boring. And that’s for well over an hour of the film, all at once! At the very least it needed to mix itself up with some action in-between.
This movie is directed by Simon West. Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) is our main character. He’s what you call a mechanic. Not a car mechanic, or a repairman type mechanic, but the kind that fixes situations or people that someone needs done. Essentially he’s a hit man. Sometimes he has to make it look like an accident, and other times he is told to make a scene of it. But either way, he’s good at his job. His employers know it, and he does. He’s the guy you call for the impossible or incredibly hard task to accomplish.
Arthur works for a man called Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland). The two of them have what I would call a father/son type relationship in addition to their working relationship. When Arthur receives his next target, he finds out that it is Harry. Although he struggles internally with it, eventually business wins out and Arthur kills Harry. After Harry’s death we meet Harry’s son Steve McKenna (Ben Foster). Ben is the kind of kid that is a trouble maker, someone who seeks out a problematic situation. Jealous of the relationship that Arthur had with Harry, he convinces Arthur with a bit of a guilt trip to teach him to become a mechanic as well. And this is where the rest of the movie continues.
I enjoy Jason Statham in most action roles. He’s really good at playing an action hero. Here is no exception, but it’s just that they first part of the movie has no momentum. He’s certainly charming and charismatic in the movie though. I really do think that Statham has the ability to play a more dramatic role. I would like to see him branch out of the action genre and at least try with a supporting role in a dramatic film. His current roles are very cookie-cutter like and eventually people will get tired of seeing the same thing.
The villain in this film is a business man named Dean (Tony Goldwyn). I like Goldwyn. He seems to provide a good balance to Statham’s character and he’s cutthroat in how he wants things done and who he wants killed. He was a pleasant addition to the cast and shines in his role with what he’s given in the script.
If the movie wasn’t so long in the first two thirds and had mixed in some action into the story it would have been a much better movie. It was slow paced and an action movie really needs to be faster paced. Definitely slow things down to develop the story, but keep the audience interested and their attention on the screen and not their watches.
This is not a movie that will be around in theaters for many weeks to come so if you’re interested in seeing it, I’d suggest going out opening weekend or within the next two weekends after that. If you can make it past the first two thirds, the action will definitely be worth the wait. It’s just the movie as a whole should have had the mechanic visit it.
FINAL GRADE: C +
Reel Film News Review by Bill Ayres