In the gloriously silly opening sequence of Mechanic: Resurrection, Jason Statham’s lead character:
smashes a woman in the face with a table, which he then flips around to throw at a pair of attackers;
burns a man’s head on an outdoor grill at a breakfast buffet;
stabs a kitchen knife through one man’s hand into another’s back;
uses a taser to ignite a spilled cocktail and set two men on fire;
leaps off of a mountaintop hotel’s balcony after incidentally spotting some pursuers on a security camera
hitches a ride on top of a slow-moving cable car as the pursuers board beneath him and fire through the roof
and finally jumps from the cable car onto a conveniently passing paraglider, who flies him to safety.
We are six minutes into the movie.
1972’s The Mechanic was a solid piece of work a little more thoughtful than your average Charles Bronson hitman action movie, but almost solely remembered for its wowzer of an ending, which still holds up as a shocker to this day.
2011’s remake, starring Jason Statham, jettisoned that ending, and it was like The Usual Suspects minus the big reveal. Another ho-hum action-thriller from the Statham assembly line.
This sequel, meanwhile, has just about zero connection to either outside of Statham’s Bishop character, and now re-imagines a franchise that by all means should not exist into some kind of globetrotting James Bond/Mission: Impossible kind of thing, at a quarter of the cost.
Resurrection jumps around from Rio to Phuket to Bangkok to Malaysia, Sydney, and even to Bulgaria. Props to set designers and location scouts: the exotic locales add a lot of flavor and look pretty great, particularly those early scenes on Thai beaches.
And actions fans, I hope you enjoy those beach scenes, because after the slam-bang opening you’ve got about half an hour of Statham-Jessica Alba romance to get through before you get a whiff of anything else.
But given that our hitman hero is retired after the events of the last movie, the writers of Mechanic: Resurrection needed to come up with some motivation to get him back into action.
So say you’re an international arms dealer like Crain (Sam Hazeldine) and you need to take out the competition. You could go for the best hitman available, or you could go even better: the recently-retired number one hitman Bishop.
You’d just need to A) plant a love interest (Alba) for Bishop to fall in love with and B) when he does fall in love with her, then kidnap her and force him to eliminate your rivals in exchange for her safety. And hope he doesn’t go after you instead, which is both easier for him and more probable, given that he doesn’t trust you.
In any event, subsequent scenes find Statham’s Bishop impersonating a pedophile to get arrested in Malaysia so he can get close to an African warlord, and vaulting up a Sydney skyscraper to kill a sex trafficker who can only be accessed through his rooftop pool that precariously dangles above the city.
The writing underneath Mechanic: Resurrection is nigh ridiculous at every strand of story development, but that somehow doesn’t detract from the impressive action and stuntwork. The thickly-layered nonsense even adds an element of so-bad-it’s-good entertainment.
An unusually strong supporting cast features Tommy Lee Jones and Michelle Yeoh; both are (mostly) wasted, but Jones, at least, has some fun playing things loose & breezy.
Among guilty pleasures, Mechanic: Resurrection might be among the guiltiest of them all. But it might be the most fun I’ve had in the cinema all summer.