In the interest of full disclosure, let me come right out and admit that I have a soft spot for Jason Statham movies. There’s something about his bespoke brand of squinty, bareknuckle beat-downs that speaks to me in the same dog-whistle pitch that the Fast and the Furious flicks or the Marvel tentpoles speak to their partisans. No, he’s not the flashiest action star. And he’s not a particularly deep actor with a vast emotional range (although he did show a surprising gift for self-deprecating, deadpan comedy in Spy). There’s just always been some intangible blue-collar badass quality about him (like the original Mechanic, Charles Bronson) that I dig, going all the way back to his early street-wise roles under Guy Ritchie. The Transporter films? Loved ’em. Cranks 1 and 2? I’ll be the first on line for No. 3. The Bank Job? C’mon, how can you not root for a character named “Terry Leather”? If backed into a corner, I could even make a case for Homefront, Wild Card, and the Expendables flicks (especially the third one). I guess all of this is my way of saying that I was really looking forward to Mechanic: Resurrection.
Shame on me.
If you recall Statham’s first Mechanic installment from 2011, he played a legendary assassin named Arthur Bishop. Okay, two things about that. First, that’s the least ridiculous name the actor’s ever been given. For a guy whose onscreen alter egos have included the likes of Chev Chelios, Nick Wild, Lee Christmas, and the aforementioned Terry Leather, there’s something disarmingly minimalist about “Arthur Bishop.” Arthur Bishop is the name of a guy who collects stamps. Second, Bishop isn’t just any assassin. His calling card is that he terminates his targets in a way that makes it appear as if they died from an accident rather than being murdered. It’s a pretty nifty conceit that sets him up as a cross between a hitman and a Houdini. It also tends to lead to some fairly creative kills, like the swimming pool scene in the first film. That movie was, of course, utterly ridiculous. But everyone involved at least had the talent and/or the inclination to make it look like they were trying, whether it was Statham’s co-stars (Donald Sutherland and Ben Foster) or his director (Con Air‘s Simon West).
Now, five years later, no one involved in Resurrection seems like they can be bothered to break a sweat. It’s a movie made by folks who know they can do better but couldn’t be bothered. Statham, a pretty minimal actor to begin with, seems to just be going through the motions. And his costars, Jessica Alba and Tommy Lee Jones, are either a) visibly uncomfortable in the genre or b) in it for the paycheck and the chance to grow a goofy soul patch. (I’ll let you guess which attribute applies to which actor.) Worst of all is just how lazy the script is and how pedestrian the directing feels. The plot is a pretty half-baked doublecross pot-boiler that forces Staham’s Bishop to pull off three tricky murders to save Alba (whose virtue is telegraphed by the fact that her character works with Cambodian orphans – Bishop was an orphan too!) from a stereotypical sadist with an Oxbridge accent (Sam Hazeldine). The majority of the action scenes are forgettable. The absurd relationship between Bishop and Alba’s damsel in distress is developed so quickly you’ll wonder if a reel of the film went missing. And the concept of a boat detonating into a giant fireball is so intoxicating to the filmmakers that they repeat the effect on three different occasions in the film. What do these folks have against yachts?
Basically, the whole joyless enterprise is an excuse to put Alba in a turquoise bikini, let Jones go cuckoo bananas, and throw Statham disciples some fatty scraps while the cast and crew rack up frequent flyer miles and get their passports stamped. For the record, the exotic locations include Brazil (Statham busts out some passable Portuguese!), Thailand (whose remote white-sand beaches are ideal for, wink-wink, bikinis), Malaysia (home to a nasty island prison where Statham gets to rub shark repellent on his six-pack abs), Australia (more about that in a sec), and Bulgaria (where Jones’ arms-dealing kingpin has a bonkers, Communist-era Dr. Evil lair).
It’s not all hopeless. It’s still a Jason Statham movie. Just not a very good example of one. There’s a fight where our chrome-domed Cockney hero brutally burns a henchman’s face on a hot grill like a slab of shwarma that’s a honey, but over too quickly (I’ll have that shwarma cooked well-done next time, please). And there’s one show-stopping sequence involving a Byzantine assassination in a glass swimming pool that hangs precariously off the top of a Sydney skyscraper. It’s the closest this unimaginative sequel comes to delivering on its B-movie promise. The good news is that much of the scene is in the film’s trailer, which you can see online for free right now.
I just saved you ten bucks. You’re welcome. C-