The last 3 decades of the 20th century gave us cinema’s most iconic action movie heroes of that century. Think Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen, Lee Van Cleef and Bruce Lee in the 70s, and Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Harrison Ford, Jackie Chan and Jet Li in the 80s/90s. Of the latter, Stallone and Schwarzenegger unarguably stand out as cinema’s most iconic action movie heroes.
Almost two decades in, the 21st century cinema is yet to give us its most definitive action movie hero. However, if there is one candidate who stands shoulder high above others as most qualified to bear that moniker, it is the lean, mean, all-muscle and not an ounce of fat fighting machine; Jason Statham.
Statham is the quintessential embodiment of a man’s man. Forget Right Said Fred being too sexy for my clothes or Justin Timberlake bringing sexy back. Statham with the 5 o’clock stubble, a shaven bald head and fighting skills you wished there was an app to download it from, is the very definition of machismo.
If you are in doubt as to Statham’s claim to the title of the 21st century’s ultimate action movie hero, then imagine how the Fast 5 totally transformed the b-movie franchise that was the Fast and Furious franchise into an A-grade action movie franchise. Then imagine what else they could have done to up the ante for the franchise. Then recall the Jason Statham end credit scene in Fast and Furious 6; “Dominic Toretto, you don’t know me but you are about to”. If Statham’s appearance in that singular scene didn’t give you a boner literally or literarily (or both), and got you doing a whoop whoop when you first saw it in the cinema hall, the doctors might as well pull the plug on your life support machine because you are as dead as a dodo.
This might be stretching it a bit but that forearm bump between Stallone and Statham in the final scene of the Expendables 3 (a movie franchise that starred an ensemble cast of action movie heroes of the 70s, 80s and 90s) could very well have been a cinematic nod from the action heroes of the last 3 decades of the last century to the putative action movie hero of this century.
Mechanic: Resurrection is an unnecessary sequel to the 2011 remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson original. It started out with a James Bondesque high octane opening scene of finely choreographed close quarter fight scenes and stunts that are the trademark of a Statham action movie. The jump onto the paraglider was a scene right out of your typical James Bond opening scene playbook and from there on out, the movie literarily dipped into typical movie boredom and incongruity.
We are introduced to Michelle Yeoh who appeared not to have aged a day since Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (where she and Chow Yun-Fat delivered a clinic on one of cinema’s most searing but understated and explored romantic dalliance). Sadly, her appearance was barely utilized and came across as perfunctory and unnecessary as the sequel itself. She could have been put to better use as Statham’s love interest (instead of Jessica Alba) and allowed to showcase her tremendous fighting skills to balance out Statham’s.
The storyline was as predictable as it was gratuitous with its action/stunt sequences and the incongruously fast tracked hook up between Alba and Statham. The hook up itself was as awkward to watch as the scene where Alba and Statham were bound together with a string signifying them as a couple must have been to both stars. An editing and continuity oversight saw Alba spotting the scar of a busted lip in some scenes and sans the scar in some other scenes.
The storyline premise for Statham’s Arthur Bishop to carry out 3 assassinations in order to be left alone to continue a life under the radar was just an excuse to have Statham do what he does best; beat up bad guys in the way you wish you could and get away with it looking all bad ass.
Statham has always been one dimensional in his acting. Even in last year’s comical turn in Paul Feig’s Spy, he still came across as one dimensional albeit in a way that went against the grain for him given the characters he has played in his career. But that is the thing with Statham; he makes his one dimensional acting so kick ass good and bad ass, you wouldn’t want him any other way.
Jessica Alba in this movie was as totally unnecessary as Michelle Yeoh was underutilized. She hasn’t been in anything worth seeing since Robert Rodriquez’s 2010 kill fest, Machete (and if we are being brutally honest; since James Cameron’s Dark Angel which launched her into our consciousness). Frankly, it came as a surprise to me that she is still making movies.
Tommy Lee Jones brought some passable gravitas to his rather brief role but it was nowhere near as memorable as Dame Judy Dench’s brief scene stealing and Oscar winning performance as Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in love.
Mechanic: Resurrection is not one of Jason Statham’s finest movies. But if you are a die-hard Statham fan as I am, it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t a souped up high octane vehicle guaranteed to take you from 0-100km/h in 0.4seconds. It was just your average over-used truck treated to your basic tune up just about enough for you to take a not so boring ride on a wet rainy Sunday.