I’ve always liked Jason Statham. Correction: I’ve always rooted for Jason Statham, ever since I first saw him in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels back in 1998. Even though he had been on the British National Diving Team, he seemed to have simply stepped off the streets of London (and the seedy streets at that), and could sell white to rice.
Then, when he held his own with with Jet Li in The One (2001) and got behind the wheel in The Transporter (2002), I figured he had found his way. But for every Italian or Bank Job, there was an In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, so for even his most loyal fans, watching him became something of a hit-or-miss proposition. But no matter how cheap or slapdash the film, Statham, like the great diver he was, kept his head above water.
Such is also the case with Mechanic: Resurrection, the sequel to his 2011 reboot of Charles Bronson’s original 1972 film about a moral hitman. Here, German director Dennis Gansel eschews his art film past to try fashioning a globe-trotting action adventure film in the modern world. Which, apparently, means creating a live-action video game where the plot is merely cotton candy to stick the action together, and never filming a close-up of Statham’s entire head.
Check it out. You can create a drinking game. Every time Statham appears with his chrome dome above the screen line, take a shot. You’ll be dead of alcohol poisoning long before the movie’s hundred minutes are up.
Until then, you can marvel at the locations (Rio! Thailand!! Australia!!! Bulgaria!!!!) and the varying degrees that the guest stars are wasted (Tommy Lee Jones, channeling Keith Richards, wastedy. Jessica Alba, rocking swimsuits while portraying a punching bag, wasteder. Michelle Yeoh, collecting a check in a thankless, inactive role, wastedest).
Ah, but you can also marvel how Jason remains a thing of brutally efficient beauty amongst the by-the-numbers dross. He always gave me the impression that, unlike so many who do whatever they’re told, he refuses, in big and small ways, to make his way through action films in a wasteful manner. For me, his fight scenes in The Expendables 3 saved the film. Although the fight coordination is credited to J.J. Perry (who also worked on Expendables 3) and Allan Poppleton (The Hunger Games), I would not at all be surprised that it was in clear collaboration with Statham.
In any case, the multiple battles throughout our “hero’s” stereotypical, occasionally illogical, assignments – taking out three crime bosses at the behest of a perverted, treacherous, childhood “friend” – are fine, albeit edited with a shredder (which is especially egregious during the film’s first, finest, fight).
In short (too late?), this is what is known in the trade as “a fast-forward special.” Wait until the VOD/DVD, and have your fast forward (and/or slo-mo) finger limber … for both the bikinis and the battles.