Wednesday, August 31, 2016

'Mechanic: Resurrection' review

Mechanic: Resurrection was one of the strangest cinematic experiences I've had in recent memory. Let me break it down for you. For those who don't know the world of press screenings and audience preview screenings, here's pretty much the only thing you need to know- they're always crowded. I usually show up an hour early, and this time around was no different. But when I walked into the theater, something strange happened- literally nobody was there. The theater was about 1/4th full, and by the time the screening started, it was only about 3/4ths full. That's downright unusual for a preview screening. So the movie began, and a bizarre sensation started to set in. It felt like I was alone. It felt like I was the only person watching this movie. It felt like the rest of the audience had disappeared into the ether, never to return from their eternal slumber (or death). As the movie reached its conclusion, I found myself looking around, muttering questions to myself. "Is anybody else awake? Is this real? Am I in the Matrix?" popped into my mind, as I fought to keep myself awake. Then the movie ended, and the dull punch of Jason Statham's latest movie vanished before my very eyes.

Make no mistake- by no means was this a positive experience. Mechanic: Resurrection is quite possibly the worst movie of 2016 thus far, a mind-numbing, nonsensical, and hopelessly boring action movie that works best as a cure for insomnia. Seriously, this movie isn't even good in the "so-bad-it's-fun" kind of way. No, this is like being stabbed slowly with a dull knife. Mechanic: Resurrection is utterly baffling, a pain-staking burden to endure. I was thinking that my soul would exit my body at any moment. I don't know why this was made, I don't know what Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, and Tommy Lee Jones were thinking when they signed up, and I don't know why any reasonable moviegoer would pay to see it. This movie is garbage. Spare yourselves. 

Sigh. Alright, so where do I possibly start with this one? Mechanic: Resurrection continues the adventures of Arthur Bishop (Statham), an assassin who specializes in making murder look like an accident. When an evil mobster named Crain (Sam Hazeldine) comes knocking at his door with a new assignment, Bishop has no desire to work for his organization again. He kills some people (in this scene, he both presses a man's face into a grill and performs a Bond-style stunt- three cheers for tonal issues!) and escapes, moving to an island where he meets the lovely Gina (Jessica Alba). They fall in love, have a cheesy sex scene, etc.- the usual stuff. Several convoluted plot twists later, Gina is being held captive by Crain. Willing to do anything to fight for the woman he loves, Bishop agrees to do Crain's three kills. But with a man as dangerous as Arthur Bishop, does Crain really know what he's in for? Violence and sweet, sweet dullness ensue.

So what is the exact draw of this movie? Well, uh. Let me think about that for a second. I guess Jason Statham shoots quite a few people. And there's Jessica Alba in a bikini. Oh, and Tommy Lee Jones shows up for a few scenes. Throw in a few big stunt scenes, and you've got a surefire hit, right? Nope. The problem lies in the fact that nobody seems all that interested in what you're doing. Here's a basic rule with filmmaking- if you don't care, the audience won't care. Statham, Alba, and even poor Tommy Lee Jones just look like they're going through the motions. There's no emotion, no memorable moments, no energy, no grit. Everything is purely mind-numbing action trash with no purpose or reason to exist. And when even the actors seem to recognize this, you know you've got a problem on your hands.

Statham is the right actor when you give him the right material. He has the ability to be funny, fearsome, witty, and awesome in equal measure, and he has done great work in the past. His performance in Spy is killer, and he knocks it out of the park in the amped-up world of Furious 7. During the opening moments of Resurrection, I sorta thought that it would be heading in that direction. The stunts are outlandishly silly, and there's some dopey Statham-style action that works briefly in the way that I expected from this movie. But soon enough, this movie turns into bland action schlock and even Statham looks bored. He has no character to work with, and because of that, his work here just falls flat. Alba has even less to do, and there's no reason that any audience member should care about her character. Jones gets to drop a funny line or two, but there's a crushing sense that he was totally and completely wasted by the awful screenplay.

Dennis Gansel's direction is neither inspired nor competent. In fact, the directing of this film runs into numerous problems, including the consistently choppy editing and odd plethora of establishing shots. Resurrection's pacing jolts up and down throughout the relatively short runtime, delivering bursts of action and many periods where absolutely nothing is happening. Most of the problems with this film ultimately go back to the truly atrocious screenplay, written by Philip Shelby and Tony Mosher. The story makes no sense, there's no tonal consistency, and frankly, there's nothing to keep the audience hooked. It almost feels like the stars and director read the script, said "Eh, whatever," and just made the movie. The twists, turns, and motivations are thin at best and non-existent at worst, which is never a problem you want your movie to run into. This is just a dumb story, and nobody along the way recognized that they needed to spice it up with some cheesy flavor or goofy charm.

Look, you don't order a Big Mac at McDonald's expecting a gourmet burger. You want your two cheaply made burgers drenched in special sauce and iceberg lettuce. But if that Big Mac doesn't taste like the delicious guilty pleasure you want it to be, you'll probably be pretty upset. Watching Mechanic: Resurrection is like getting a bad cheeseburger from McDonald's. You know it's gonna be awful going in, but when you don't get that cheesy high from it, you're all the more disappointed. Just skip this one. Don't watch it on TV, don't watch it on a plane, and if someone offers the DVD to you, just throw it in the trash. It's awful, dull, and bland in all the worst ways, and there's no reason for me to waste any more time writing about it.

THE FINAL GRADE:  F                                                 (2/10)

Images courtesy of Lionsgate Films

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