The scowl. The muscles. The senseless acts of violence. Jason Statham IS The Transporter! No, hang on – The Mechanic! Oh, who are we kidding? By now Statham is essentially his own subgenre and Con Air director Simon West’s first film in three years wastes no time in serving up some full-frontal Stath-porn.
Within five minutes, we’ve had a witty underwater kill and – hello! – out comes Statham’s hairy chest. Looking, as ever, like he’s been injecting raw steaks into his arms, Statham plays a lone-wolf hitman who’s an expert in assassinations that look like accidents: he’ll take out the target then vanish like he was never there.
He’s the kind of man who wears a black rollneck and a leather jacket to a bar and still has wham-bang sex with a Victoria’s Secret model. Which, to be fair, is probably an average night out for The Stath.
Reduxing Charles Bronson’s 1972 genre B-thriller, The Mechanic is safely predictable but with enough pace and punch to keep jolting forward. Having been duped into whacking his mentor and only friend (Donald Sutherland, literally coasting in a wheelchair), Statham then takes the man’s alcoholic son (Ben Foster) as his apprentice. Because that couldn’t backfire, right?
X-Men: The Last Stand’s Foster (a kind of budget Ryan Gosling) is quite cool as Statham’s wisecracking, whiskey-skulling protégé, while bad guy Tony Goldwyn (brother of Paramount Studios’ president, director of Conviction) grabs the film’s standout zinger: “I’m going to put a price on your head so big that when you look in the mirror your reflection is gonna want to shoot you in the face.”
Bravo. And if you like that, you’ll love the violence. Whether it’s concussive face-smashing (Foster brutally hurled through bookcases by a 7ft gay killer who loves Chihuahuas) or high-calibre gunishment (splatty headshots, shell-cases pirouetting in slo-mo), the choreography is bloody, brutal and believable. At one point, Statham sticks a fire extinguisher pin through his opponent’s cheek. Now you don’t get that in The King’s Speech.
Publication: Total Film