Director : Dennis Gansel
Year Of Release : 2016
Principal Cast : Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Michelle Yeoh, Sam Hazeldine, Nathalie Burn, Tommy Lee Jones.
Approx Running Time : 98 Minutes
Synopsis: Arthur Bishop thought he had put his murderous past behind him when his most formidable foe kidnaps the love of his life. Now he is forced to travel the globe to complete three impossible assassinations, and do what he does best, make them look like accidents.
This third-rate Statham action flick never gets out of first gear, rendering much of Dennis Gansel’s admittedly beautifully exotic locations all but useless. Against the backdrops of Rio, Vietnam, Cambodia , Sydney and what I think is some Euro stand-in for Bulgaria, Mechanic: Resurrection is less the second coming as it is the final death-rattle of a franchise that never ever really took off. It boasts one of the most asinine script in recent memory, some utterly atrocious acting performances, and hideous green-screen work; there’s little to redeem this film other than the hilarity of The Stath™ taking on and defeating hundreds of faceless henchmen and thugs with patented Infinity-Bullet Guns©, which never ever seem to need reloading.
The Stath™ reprises his role from the 2011 film The Mechanic, playing Arthur Bishop, blackmailed into returning to his former career as an assassin known for making his victims’ deaths look like accidents. A former colleague, Riah Crain (Sam Hazeldene), has coerced a beautiful young woman, Gina Thorne (Jessica Alba), into getting close to Bishop in order to get him to fulfil a mission. Gina, a Cambodian orphanage worker, finds herself attracted to Bishop despite his dark past. Begrudgingly, Bishop takes on the task of killing three top arms dealers around the world, before time runs out on Gina’s life.
Although you could find yourself a tinge of “guilty pleasure” about The Mechanic’s lowbrow style and verisimilitude, little such joy is to be found in Resurrection. As a sequel, it foregoes backstory (or even the franchise’s own past) in favour of cliche, derivative characters, contrivance, convenience and a distinct lack of “thrill” in an expedition in tedium that makes the original remake look like Citizen Kane. The swiss-cheese plot, flavourless characters and breathtakingly asinine dialogue disembowel the film’s visual splendour and make this more a clock-watching exercise than anything remotely enjoyable. Oh sure, if you don’t mind The Stath™’s continued bashing, bollocking, rock-em-sock-em punching bag routine on a literal legion of thugs and henchmen as the simplest form of entertainment, you’ll have a blast as the man carves his violent neck-breaking way through Resurrection’s pointless strategem. But it’s so routine, so generic and lacking in nuance it struggles even as a cheap-o B-movie.
The plot resembles some weird Bond/Bourne/Mission Impossible coagulation, a hokey series of genre tropes trotted out as Alba’s sexually desirable mermadian Gina flits about the screen as little more than pathetic misogynist bait. The Stath™’s on-screen chemistry with Alba stretches credibility, and Alba’s poorly written character stretched the actress’s ability to maintain credulity as she’s forced to spout utterly bizarre plot exposition as a method of development. The film’s Boss Level bad guy, Hazeldene’s Crain, feels like a badly cloned version of Sean Bean’s character in Goldeneye, although blessedly here the guy doesn’t have a satellite dish dropped on his face. Michelle Yeoh pops in in a wasted role as Bishop’s Q of sorts, although she’s about as interesting and well-rounded as asprin and finds little solace in spending the film on an idyllic beach in Vietnam. Oh, and Tommy Lee Jones’ last-act appearance as a robe-wearing gangster type? Slack-jawed awe that he’d condescend to appear in trash like this, let alone give it even the slightest glance as the script came across his desk.
The film spans the globe with Bond-like ease, spending little time figuring out the “how” and getting right to the “what and who” instead. Gansel’s lensing of the film’s feature locations is stunning, and props for making the film at least feel intercontinental even though the plot and characters lack the exotic flavour they were obviously going for. The film’s major set pieces include an island-borne gulag – similar to Alcatraz, only populated by the actual worst-of-the-worst – a Sydney CBD skyscraper with an illogical suspended pool hanging off the roof, and a Bulgarian-set submarine base in which Bishop takes on a clutch of Crain’s men in a most MacGuyver-like fashion.
In spite of its narrative deficiencies and a sledgehammer approach to editing and convenience, Resurrection’s slick sheen really fades when you realise just how much green-screen work is involved here, and how shoddy it looks. An early scene in Rio, atop a mountain-set restaurant, is entirely fake, a set surrounded by hideously rotoscoped “Rio” backdrop scenery that feels cheap and nasty and probably is. There’s a smattering of this elsewhere in the film too, primarily in places where the background couldn’t be shot for real and money needed to be saved. The wide-expanse luxury of the film’s settings is severely undermined by the fact that much of it was obviously shot on a set, inside a studio.
Workmanlike as his direction is, Dennis Gansel’s film lurches between competent and inane. Using a textbook written by Luc Besson on how to overedit and confuse the audience in action sequences, Gansel’s over-produced action set-pieces lack tension or joy; a scene involving The Stath™ hanging from the base of a glass-bottomed pool above the Sydney skyline deserves time to dwell in the utter ridiculousness of the situation (it feels like a poor man’s Tom Cruise’s dalliance outside the Burj Khalifa in Ghost Protocol) but Gansel never gives it the essence of showmanship required. A final act battle sequence aboard Crain’s luxury yaght, involving so many mercenary henchmen it beggars belief as to where they were all hidden aboard, is ludicrous. Guns with limitless ammo, henchmen who cannot shoot straight for the life of them, a hero so incapable of being shot it’s like he’s a black hole of physics and science, and a total WTF? ending to end all endings: Resurrection goes out with as large a bang as it can, but summoning effort to actually enjoy this one is hardly worth it.
Mechanic: Resurrection is astonishingly incoherent and obtusely written, and there stems most of the film’s problems. The Stath™ is as The Stath™ does: he’s clench-jawed for its entirety (including an unintentionally hilarious love scene with Alba) and resolutely incapable of providing this dreary script with any influential charisma whatsoever. Had the film spent more time developing its thin story into something a tad more capable, and were Gansel a director capable of crafting a decent action film out of his playboard of wonderful locations, Resurrection might have worked. Unfortunately, this is one Resurrection that needs a stake through the heart. Bury it, deep deep down in the dirt. For good.
© 2017, Rodney Twelftree. All rights reserved.