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Blu-ray Reviews

The Mechanic Blu-ray



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#1 of 1 Richard Gallagher

Richard Gallagher

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  • Real Name:Rich Gallagher
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Posted May 15 2011 - 10:48 AM

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The Mechanic

Studio: Sony
Year: 2011
Rated: R
Program Length: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 1080p
Languages: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

The Program

The Mechanic, a movie about a hit man which is a remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson film of the same name, features strong acting, high production values, non-stop action and very graphic violence. Unfortunately, it brings absolutely nothing new to the genre other than state-of-the-art special effects. There is nothing here which we have not seen before, and the script offers up nary a single surprise.

Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) is an elite assassin, a "mechanic" who permanently fixes problems. Based in New Orleans, he has developed the ability to tailor a unique approach to each of his targets. Sometimes the object is to make it look like an accident, leaving no traces which might hint that a hit man was involved. At other times the idea is to leave evidence which casts suspicion upon someone else. There also are contracts which are more overt and are intended to send an unmistakable message. Invariably Arthur develops an ingenious plan which allows him to get close enough to his target to consummate the contract and still make a clean getaway. The one constant is that Arthur's victims seem to be evildoers who deserve their fates, such as the head of a drug cartel and an unscrupulous arms dealer.

Arthur receives his contracts from a mysterious organization called IGS, which is headed by a smarmy executive-type named Dean (Tony Goldwyn). Arthur also has a mentor, Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland), who is the closest thing Arthur has to a friend. Harry is now confined to a wheelchair, but he is still active in the organization. Harry is estranged from his son, Steve (Ben Foster), who has been leading an aimless life and is a major disappointment to Harry.

Steve is aware of Arthur's occupation, and he approaches the hit man about getting into the business. Arthur initially does not think much of the idea. He has always worked alone and he turns Steve down. However, he eventually relents and agrees to take Steve along on a job to see if he can stomach the work. He explains to Steve that it is important to remain dispassionate about the targets. Arthur portentously cautions Steve that he should never allow himself to be motivated by revenge.

What follows is a series of extremely well-made and violently choreographed action scenes which regrettably lead to an entirely predictable conclusion. There is one particularly cringe-worthy sequence in which Arthur interrogates a man about the whereabouts of Dean while threatening to maim the man's daughter. The Mechanic does benefit from wonderful location filming in an about New Orleans. Jason Statham has previously established himself as a rugged, athletic leading man in action films such as The Transporter and Crank, and he is perfectly cast here. Ben Foster is a solid young character actor who turn in a fine performance as Steve.

The screenplay, by Richard Wenk and Lewis John Carlino, is generally faithful to Carlino's 1972 script. That may actually be the film's primary weakness, because this remake really has nothing original to say about the life of a hit man. Ultimately it is a painless bur mostly forgettable way to kill 90 minutes.

The Video

Sony's 2.40:1 Blu-ray transfer is excellent in every respect (the codec is MPEG-4 AVC). It provides highly detailed images, accurate and vivid colors, solid blacks and very good shadow detail in the film's many dark scenes. The viewer can almost count the facial hairs on the scruffy-looking assassins. The Mechanic features considerable gunplay, frequent explosions and a series of vehicle crashes, all of which look quite spectacular. A moderate level of film grain has been retained to give The Mechanic a very satisfying film-like appearance, with no evidence of digital anomalies or excessive edge enhancement. Sony has done another excellent job of giving viewers the opportunity to enjoy a cinematic experience at home.

The Audio

The lossless 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio is powerful and superb. Dialogue is mostly confined to the center channel and is always clear and understandable. The realistic sounds of gunshots and explosions keep all of the speakers busy and those sounds are capable of rattling the windows at times, although never to the point of being over the top. The evocative music score benefits from an expansive soundstage which extends to the surround speakers.

The Supplements

The extras on this Blu-ray disc are very limited.

Of interest are four extended scenes and an alternate ending of the film's opening scene (the scene which is used in the film works better).

"Tools of the Trade: Inside the Action" is a fairly typical "making of" featurette. It runs for approximately eight minutes and offers some insights into how the film's many stunts were done. The principal members of the cast and crew are given an opportunity to talk about the challenges involved in making a movie about a hit man.

Sony has included trailers for Insidious, Battle: Los Angeles, Quarantine 2: Terminal, and Faster.

BD-Live features will be activated on the release date.

The Packaging

The single Blu-ray disc is packaged in a standard Blu-ray keep case.

The Final Analysis

While The Mechanic really has nothing new to say, it is extremely well-made and boasts some impressive action scenes and a dynamic soundtrack. It moves along at a breakneck pace, and many viewers may find it sufficiently entertaining to forgive the script's failure to provide a fresh take on the genre.

Equipment used for this review:

Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player
Panasonic Viera TC-P46G15 Plasma display, calibrated to THX specifications by Gregg Loewen
Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
BIC Acoustech speakers
Interconnects: Monster Cable

Release Date: May 17, 2011



Rich Gallagher