'Mechanic: Resurrection': Film Review

This franchise is badly in need of repair.

Jason Statham reprises his role as an assassin extraordinaire in this sequel to the remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson film; also starring Jessica Alba.

Starring in a sequel to the 2011 remake for which no one was clamoring in the first place, Jason Statham reprises his role as assassin extraordinaire Arthur Bishop in Mechanic: Resurrection. Taking the character to James Bond-style extremes never approached by Charles Bronson in the 1972 original, this would-be franchise is fairly indistinguishable from such previous Statham properties as the Crank and Transporter series. This is undemanding popcorn fare, perfectly suited for its theatrical release in the dog days of summer.

When first seen, Bishop is enjoying retirement living on a boat in Rio de Janeiro. But as Ryan Lochte recently demonstrated, it's virtually impossible to stay out of trouble for long in that Brazilian city, with Bishop having to violently fend off the minions of the ruthless criminal Crain (Sam Hazeldine) delivering the message that their boss requires his services.

Retreating to an island paradise in Thailand and the safe auspices of his friend Mei (Michelle Yeoh), Bishop finds himself drawn to the beautiful Gina (Jessica Alba). The two immediately become romantically involved, but she's kidnapped by Crain's henchmen and Bishop is given an ultimatum: He must dispatch three of Crain's enemies, in each case making it look like an accident, or she dies.

And so Bishop is forced to use his very particular set of skills, but lest the viewers worry about the morality of it all, they're assured that the potential victims — a mass-murdering African warlord, a human trafficker and an arms dealer, respectively — are very bad guys indeed.

The first scenario involves Bishop having to get himself into a maximum security Malaysian prison, kill the warlord and then break out again. Needless to say, it proves no sweat. In the second, he manages to arrange an "accident" for his victim who's swimming in a cantilevered swimming pool suspended from the 76th floor of a Sydney skyscraper. Finally, he's faced with having to breach a Soviet-style Bulgarian bunker to get to the arms dealer (played by an unusually jaunty Tommy Lee Jones, sporting a soul patch).

It's all about as ridiculous as it sounds, with Statham's character hopscotching across the globe in mere hours; equipped with unlimited resources and advanced knowledge of chemistry, architecture and engineering; and seemingly physically invulnerable. Engaging in such derring-do as leaping off a tramway onto a passing hang glider, clambering up the side of the skyscraper and diving off an impossibly high cliff, Statham displays the formidable athleticism — at age 49, no less — that makes it seem convincing. He also takes off his shirt … a lot.

As does Alba, who, the film's male target audience will be happy to hear, is given the opportunity once again to rock a bikini. She's also allowed to do a fair amount of fighting, which is more than could be said of Yeoh, who is appealing but woefully wasted in her non-physical role.

That it took two screenwriters to come up with the preposterous plotline and dialogue on the order of the villain barking to Gina, "Your boyfriend's coming to die, and you're the bait!" speaks volumes. The film is certainly watchable, thanks to the elaborately staged action sequences and Statham's killer charisma. But the actor has already demonstrated his estimable comic chops in Spy, opposite Melissa McCarthy. Isn't it time he be given the chance to show some of that flair in one of his own action vehicles?  

Distributor: Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment
Production: Chartoff Winkler Productions, Millennium Films
Cast: Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Sam Hazeldine, John Cenatiempo, Toby Eddington, Femi Elufowoju, Jr.
Director: Dennis Gansel
Screenwriters: Philip Selby, Tony Mosher
Producers: John Thompson, Robert Earl, David Winkler, William Chartoff
Executive producers: Avi Lerner, Brian Presley, Trevor Short, Mark Gill, Boaz Davidson, Frank DeMartini, Steven Chasman
Director of photography: Daniel Gottschalk
Production designer: Sebastian T. Krawinkel
Editors: Michael J. Duthie, Todd E. Miller, Ueli Christen
Costume designer: Preeyanan Suwannathada
Music: Mark Isham
Casting: Raweeporn S. Jungmeir

Rated R, 98 minutes