Reel Previews: The Mechanic (2011)

I love movie trailers – come deconstruct them with me!

(Don’t cloud your judgement! Watch the trailer then read my rant.)

The Mechanic (January 28 2011 | CBS Films)

Years ago, I was bored and happened to flip to a local channel showing some seventies movie with Charles Bronson in it. I thought it was going to be lame, old-timey shit.

I was wrong.

That movie was The Mechanic, and it was fucking badass. The details of the plot are hard for me to remember, but simply reciting the movie’s title summons a soft blanket woven with fond memories of badassery over my heart.

A similar situation happened with El Mariachi; having never heard of it, nor having seen any plot-spoiling trailers for it, I watched El Mariachi one idle night on that same local channel with expectations so low, it was digging quite successfully to China. Needless to say, I was blown away by its majesty (and by the fact, which I only found out later, that it was the precursor to Desperado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico).

Now there’s a remake of The Mechanic, starting Jason Statham.

I guess you can cue the sad violin and sense of foreboding, right? A remake is cruel, surprize buttsecks to the cherished films of yore, right? Well…I dunno. The Mechanic actually seems suited to a modern retelling. The plot is simple enough – sophisticated assassin takes on an apprentice (and hijinks ensue!). You can go interesting places with an outline like that.

The problem is that this new version looks like it goes to the least interesting corner of the Imagination Station. The original version had an almost meditative quality, which had the effect of making the violence even more chilling. The Wikipedia page for the original has a little note on the existentialism of the film, ferchrissake! But the trailer for the new version is hardly Zen-like. Almost instantly after the green rating card disappears you get wacked over the head with the sound of a pulsating electric guitar. You know, ‘cuz rock music makes everything cooler.

Quick cuts in the beginning showcase the lead character’s résumé of death screaming “Hire me! Hire me, bitch!” Bronson’s Mechanic would need no such brazen excessiveness. He’d kill your enemy’s dog and make it look like it accidentally choked on its favourite chew toy if you asked him for an employment reference.

The rest of the trailer is an infodump of gadgets and violence that leads me to believe that this movie will sink into the bowels of mediocrity. Case in point: “Time to take your training to the next level.” What the fuck is this, Training from Hell?! I’ll give the trailer’s tagline (“A good mechanic is hard to find.”) a pass, though. Because it’s true. Jason Statham may be a mechanic, but I doubt he’s a good one. It’s not that I don’t like him as an actor. He just doesn’t seem like the spiritual successor to Bronson. So keep on looking, folks! Nothing to see here!

Taken by itself, this is an exciting trailer that piques your interest in the movie, no doubt about that. Flashy action isn’t bad by itself, but come on…so many modern action movies are like that. The 1972 movie was special because it transcended the tired clichés that films about assassins are wont to slip into. Will the 2011 version do the same? If the trailer’s any indication, probably not. That’s a shame for badass lovers everywhere.

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