Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mechanic: Resurrection review

I do like Jason Statham, but ever since the Crank series I'm a little bit wary of his movies - amusing as the concept was, those were a little too nonsensical for me - and as a result several of his recent movies passed me by. What I'm saying is, I haven't seen the first Mechanic movie.

That didn't stop me from enjoying this one though; while I might be missing a little backstory, Resurrection doesn't seem to lean too heavily on the character's history. That's not to say that the plot is bad or anything, personally I thought it did a decent job of setting up the action and the stakes without overstaying it's welcome; we're here to see Jason Statham punch people in the face after all, I don't think anyone went in to this hoping for a deep story.

The film does take a little time to explain the characters' motivations and let us see them interact and form relationships, but personally I felt that part was little rushed. It was handled better than some movies I've seen recently though, so I'm going to give it a pass on that count.

The acting was sufficient; no-one is going to be winning any awards, but personally I think Jason Statham does just fine as a tough-guy with a soft center. Jessica Alba didn't get very much to do other than sit around looking worried most of the movie, but I thought she had some good moments in the early scenes when her character is bonding with Jason's. Sam Hazeldine was OK, but his character wasn't a particularly intimidating villain - he didn't do anything impressive or even particularly evil, he just talked a bit and gave some orders - so I don't think he really had enough to work with.

It was nice to see Michelle Yeoh; it would have been nicer to see her kicking people in the head, but oh well; she did a great job of bringing a lot of warmth to her character. Tommy Lee Jones didn't have much screen time, but he was entertaining in his few scenes - funnily enough I can't remember the last time he looked like he was enjoying himself as much as he did here.

But of course, this movie was all about the action, and on that front it delivered. The film alternated between intense fist-fights, fast-paced gunfights, and more methodical assassination scenes. Jason Statham is one of the few Western actors who seems to deliver really good fights, and that's exactly what he did here. Jessica Alba only had a few short action scenes, but she handled those well too.

I rarely find Hollywood punch-ups very impressive, especially now that it has been infected by the insidious disease of the quick-cut shaky-cam, but I really liked the fights in Mechanic: Resurrection. They were fast, intense, and a little bit clever.

To be honest, typical gunfights don't tend to interest me very much as they tend to be a whole lot of static shots of people just standing or kneeling, waving guns around missing everything. While there wasn't all that much gunplay here, what we got was some of the better stuff; again, these scenes were fast paced and a little bit smart, and I enjoyed them.

The assassinations scenes were like miniature heist movies, with a bit of suspense and a quick pay-off. They weren't great to be honest, but I thought they were fun and they did a good job of changing up the pace, which of course helped keep the faster action scenes from getting monotonous. Plus they added to the intelligence quotient of the whole endeavour; this is an action movie, but at least it's not a dumb action movie - well, at least the action isn't dumb.

While I've complained a great deal about quick camera work ruining action scenes in movies these day, the camera work here was definitely more Hollywood than Hong Kong, and yet it worked. I couldn't tell you what the difference was between the camera work in this movie and in Jason Bourne, but this one worked while that one fell flat on it's face. This is why cinema is an art I suppose.

Talking about the cinematography, there were some beautiful establishing shots that genuinely made me wish I could see those locations in person. That's not really something I can about a lot of movies. It was a nice touch.

Overall I'm rating this one an 8/10: objectively this is the kinda movie I normally would rate around a 7, but I enjoyed the action so much that I have to give it a bit more credit than that. So yeah, a good action movie.


Despite his age, Jason Statham is in great shape; I know because he took of his shirt a lot in this movie. Like, a LOT.

Jessica's character turning out to be bait rather than a damsel in distress was a nice touch, or it would have been if she didn't immediately transform into a damsel in distress. Somehow her role was still better than Jane in Tarzan.

There were a few times when important character details were narrated, when I think it might have had more impact if they gave us something visual to go along with the narration. I dunno, show don't tell right?

It's a small thing, but the villain's second-in-command died too easily; I was expecting him to put up more of a fight. You know: the second-to-last boss fight, sort of thing? We didn't even see him die. Hmm, perhaps he didn't; perhaps he'll be the villain in the next one? Naaah.

That first assassination was a bit too convenient I thought. I loved the second one though; that pool looked amazing, and the kill was entertaining. Unfortunately the last one felt extremely rushed; yes, it wasn't actually an assassination, but still, it really felt like Bishop was just teleporting around wherever he wanted for that one.

About the only time that I was having trouble following the film was the part when Bishop was bonding with Gina. Bishop knew that he'd been followed and was being watched, but his plan was... to just wait and let himself get captured? He was talking about smuggling Gina to safety, but that didn't happen: was he lying to her or did the bad guys make their move too soon? I dunno, it all just felt excessively passive for Bishop considering the action scene we'd just witnessed - they'd established him as a man of action who always has a plan a moment ago, only to have him sit around and wait for the bad guys to capture him with no plan of escape. Well, that quiet time was necessary for character development, so I understand why it was there, it just didn't quite fit thematically I guess?

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