Simon West’s remake of Michael Winner’s 1972 film is by no means a worn-out hand-me-down and The Mechanic may easily be able to boast the title of ‘West’s best’ since Con Air. The opening sequence follows protagonist Arthur Bishop (the inside-out Bond/action star Jason Statham) on a silent operation where we get our first taste of just how a professional assassin – aka a mechanic – operates. The story is simple yet effective. Arthur is a proficient contract-killer with a gentleman’s taste for fine music, classic cars and brief sexual encounters with preternaturally attractive women. His employers are the greedy corporate fat-cat type and his sole meaningful relationship is with an elderly, wheelchair-bound Donald Sutherland who plays his mentor, contact-man and friend Harry McKenna. When the fat cats call for Harry’s head on a platter an unwilling Arthur complies leaving our hero up to his neck in betrayal and disillusion as well as responsible for Harry’s near-criminally delinquent son Steve. Ben Foster plays said felonious offspring who Arthur takes under his rippling bicep wing in order to mould Steve into a trainee mechanic and before long he becomes the Robin to Arthur’s Batman. But when the plot thickens and the truth comes out the consequences are explosive.

Now contrary to popular belief, Jason Statham isn’t just an actor, he is in fact also a suitable adjective for things which are a little bit diamond in the rough, lethally violent when provoked and a tad sexy in a British bulldog way. In the Mechanic he remains true to form and is as Jason Stathamy as ever. We’ve come to expect very little from him in the way of versatility but Jason does what it says on the tin and he does it well. Ben Foster however gives a remarkable performance which I must admit I was not at all ready for. My expectations of Foster were unwittingly shaped by the moment I first clapped eyes upon him playing an ordinary-boy challenges the status quo role in Get Over It. I don’t think I will ever watch that romantic comedy in the same way again. Steve is daring, dirty and monstrous in a way that distinguishes him from the innumerable violent characters in the film. He is a model of neglect and rage: radiantly corrupt and disturbingly unreadable. Hats off to Foster, he is most definitely one to watch and I can comfortably say that his performance bolsters the film considerably.

The Mechanic is snappy and extremely paced, whilst propelling the audience through the story at break-neck speed may not lend the film any favours on the memorable front, in terms of action-driven entertainment this is rollercoaster stuff. The action sequences are frequent and jaw-droppingly violent in places but always choreographed in a way which couldn’t possibly bore. West also takes care to capitalize beautifully on Arthur’s career choice by offering the audience an assassin’s smorgasbord of possible murder techniques, be it stabbing, drowning, shooting, strangling, choking, explosions or any combination of all of the above with various tools!

Within minutes I wasn’t that surprised I was the only member of the fairer sex in the room, one of three if we count Arthur’s preferred sexual relief Mini Anden and the woman Steve picks up in a bar before bonking and abandoning her in an alley. Now, this isn’t to say a girl can’t enjoy all that danger, testosterone and gratuitous violence, I most certainly did! This kind of film is best enjoyed with the volume up, eyes wide and your brain tuned down to ‘suspend disbelief in favour of excitement.’ In comparison to Winner’s original film starring Charles Bronson and Jan-Michael Vincent, West has stayed relatively true to the story with the exception of a few glaring revisions but the impact and message of the source still comes across with plenty of oomph.

[Rating 3/5]