The Mechanic

The Mechanic is, sadly, not as nifty as the previews promise. It lumbers along trying to make the conflicts and fight scenes meaningful, but it doesn’t take the time to think the relationships through and this weakens the entire movie.

Even the always-accessible and charming Jason Statham can’t elevate this flick beyond something of a clinical, joyless actioner.

Here’s a trailer:

The deets:

Released January 28, 2011

Written by Richard Wenk and Lewis John Carlino

Directed by Simon West

Starring Mini Anden, Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland, and Tony Goldwyn

Rated: R

*     *     *     *      *

Story

Arthur Bishop (Statham) is a professional, slick, cold assassin who can be relied on to do his hit jobs flawlessly- making them look accidental as needed or anything else the client requires. After he is deceived and does a job he regrets, he finds motivation to go after the people who had his mentor (Sutherland) killed.

But in the meantime, his mentor’s son, Steve (Foster) is a lackadaisical no-good punk who doesn’t seem to have any reason to feel sentimental about his dad. Nonetheless, he wants revenge and he convinces Bishop to train him as an assassin. Steve finds direction in this path and it turns out he isn’t bad at it, but his lack of polish, control, and focus dooms him to not being anywhere near as good as Bishop.

The two work together to do jobs here and there, and having Steve around throws Bishop’s routine off. Add to this the totally forgettable dalliances that Bishop has with Sarah, who it appears is a high-priced prostitute who has feelings for Bishop and for whom, if he had the ability to do so, Bishop my have feelings as well.

Soon Steve and Bishop home in on Dean (Goldwyn) as the big baddie. Dean is also the boss of the network that Bishop has been working for, so the guy has a lot of resources to dedicate to stopping Bishop and his protege.

This all leads to bullets flying, clever maneuvering, nifty fights, and the question of whether the servant has become the master.

Critique

The only things that The Mechanic has going for it are three good actors doing as best they can and some fun action scenes. But even those action scenes can’t top the opening sequence wherein Bishop assassinates a very bad man.

Statham is wonderful at the slow burn and we want to see his righteous rage burning in the set of his stubbled jaw and square chin, but there’s not enough emotional weight to the conflicts in The Mechanic, so Statham never really gets to slow burn. He does what he can, and Foster is great as a wily, vindictive punk, but the writers didn’t think nearly enough about what would drive these characters and how their relationships really would work. Goldwyn does a workaday job as a villain. It would be nice if he could find another role, though.

Despite some fairly solid action sequences and plenty of attempts to make the viewer care about what’s going on, those attempts fall flat because we are just never given a reason to root for, or hate, anyone. Thus, this is a flat action flick that only really engages when the fights get going.

Content warnings: salty language, some sexuality and nudity, plenty of heavy violence

Writing: 2.5          Acting: 4          Overall: 2.5

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Immortals

Immortals is not a good movie, despite a game effort by Henry Cavill and Luke Evans. This is partly because Mickey Rourke made no effort and was terribly cast.

Avoid this movie, no matter how intriguing it may seem.

Here’s a trailer (with apologies for the incoherence of the trailer; the film isn’t much different):


The deets:

Released November 11, 2011

Written by Charley Parlapanides and Vlas Parlapanides

Directed by Tarsem Singh

Starring Freida Pinto, Anne Day-Jones, Isabel Lucas, Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Luke Evans, Steven Dorff, John Hurt, and Kellan Lutz

Rated: R

*     *     *     *     *

Story

Gonna give this a go, but the film is so poorly thought-out that putting the plot into a coherent summary will be difficult.

Here goes.

Eons ago, there was a war. The victors proclaimed themselves gods over the people of Earth and the losers were called titans and were trapped in a cage in a mountain with rebar in their mouths. This is Greek stuff, so the gods are Zeus (Evans), Athena (Lucas) etc.

Today, there is a mad, powerful king called Hyperion (Rourke) who is laying waste to all of the civilized world in a bid to gain power over a mighty bow that he can use to free the titans and then kill the gods. Ostensibly so he can rule the world he is destroying.

A peasant named Theseus (Cavill) lives in a strange village carved into a rock shelf in a cliff near the ocean. He lives with his mother (Day-Jones) and has been guided and trained by an old man (Hurt), who may or may not be Zeus in human form. How Zeus selected Theseus as a protege- we don’t know.

Theseus is an impressive fighter and has no fear; his only loyalty is to his mother. And then Hyperion kills Theseus’ mother and now Theseus, who previously had no desire to fight, is out for blood.

So Theseus goes on a roundabout quest to catch up to Hyperion and/or the Greek armies. This quest carries him into brief slavery, where he luckily finds a beautiful virgin (for not much longer) oracle (Pinto), who tries to guide Theseus toward his destiny. Theseus also inspires a mercenary-type group of slaves to join him, chief among them being Stavros (Dorff).

Then, for some reason, Theseus is in a maze-like place and is set upon by a huge man dressed as a minotaur. A battle ensues and Theseus wins, of course, and finds the powerful bow that Hyperion wants.

In the background of all this, a Greek traitor is for some reason helping Hyperion and they come into possession of the bow after some tribulation.

Then we’re with the Greek armies as they try to keep Hyperion from making his way into the mountain where the titans are captive. Theseus is somehow leading the Greek armies and he has to stop Hyperion. But the titans are freed and the gods descend to fight the titans and then there’s a lot of dying.

Blood splatters throughout, at great length.

Critique

Let’s start with the incoherent plot. For much of the film, we are unsure of what Theseus is trying to do. We’re also confused by gods who are clearly capricious and are likely the worst beings in the universe. Seriously, why didn’t the victors, who made themselves gods, just kill all the titans long ago, since they’re clearly willing to do so now? What was the point of trapping them? These gods certainly have no compunction about slaying them when the mythology hits the fan later in the in movie.

Hyperion is also a complete waste of character. He’s stupidly cruel and is leaving a world that isn’t worth ruling in his wake. There is no apparent reason for much of the awful stuff that he does. What’s more, Rourke clearly has no clue what is going on and essentially dozes throughout the movie.

Then there’s the oracle. She goes from mystical conduit of universal wisdom who must remain pure to exhibitionist lover pretty darn fast. And then she’s forgotten.

Don’t forget that the rulers of the Greek people are conveniently stupid and don’t act like any actual person with sense– so that Theseus can assume the reins of power and lead the army to victory.

Now add the splattering blood, graphic cruelty, at times too-slow-motion action, and all of this done with no style.

What we have here is a bunch of plot contrivances pasted onto Henry Cavill’s extraordinary torso and jaw and a wing and a prayer. Henry Cavill does his best, but nobody could save this flick.

And the movie was ‘successful.’

Don’t watch this movie.

Content warnings: Some sexuality and nudity along with a lot of splattery violence

Writing: 1          Acting: 2.5         Overall: 1.5

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I Am Number Four

I Am Number Four, as a movie, is better than the book. Unfortunately, that’s not saying a lot. It’s altogether an okay movie, but it lacks spark and freshness, so it ultimately is quite boring.

Here’s a trailer:

The deets:

Released February 18, 2011

Written by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, and Marti Noxon, based on the book by Jobie Hughes (using the penname Pittacus Lore)

Directed by DJ Caruso

Starring: Dianna Agron, Teresa Palmer, Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Kevin Durand, Callan McAuliffe, and Jake Abel

Rated: PG-13

*     *     *     *     *

Story

John Smith (Pettyfer) and the man he calls his father, Henri (Olyphant), are not from this world. They come from a different planet and here on earth they are being hunted by some bad guys called the Mogadorians, led by their chief ugly baddy (Durand). John is the fourth of seven young people from their world, and apparently they must be killed in a certain order. When the third of the young people is killed, a bright shining tattoo appears on John’s leg, alerting him to the fact that he’s next on the Mogadorians’ hit list.

John and Henri’s chief strategy is to lay low and stay off radar so the Mogadorians will have no way of finding them. The problem is that John has uncontrollable powers and such that are difficult and sometimes impossible to hide.

Do you see the problem with this story yet? You will in the Critique section.

So John and Henri go on the run, finding new identities in a smallish town, whereupon John insists that he go to school to appear normal. Although both he and Henri know that alien things are going to keep happening to John and a public high school is a terrible place to try to keep those things quiet.

So that makes sense.

But it’s all fine because that’s when Dianna Agron shows up. She plays Sarah Hart, a sweet young lady who photographs all kinds of things and who immediately shares a connection with John Smith. Sarah, of course, has a jealous jock of a previous boyfriend, Mark (Abel), so now we have a good excuse to see John’s powers in action.

Sam (McAuliffe) sees what John does and is convinced that John is not of this world and that John can help Sam find his dad, who had alien encounters.

Meanwhile, the Mogadorians are getting closer. And this all ends in a big, nasty, CG-filled showdown in the high school, during which a mysterious girl (Palmer) shows up and kicks everyone’s butt.

Critique

Look, Pettyfer, Olyphant, Agron, and the others do their level best with the material. But when your story never gives a reason for any of the action, a motivation for the aliens to have been attacked and swept from their planet, followed by a reason for the Mogadorians to have chased them to Earth– or at least a believable reason– then the movie’s just not going to work. Add to that the fact that John is essentially a complete idiot, his love for Sarah might actually just be something that occurs due to the biology of his race, and that a random creature shows up for no apparent reason– and you just have nothing to connect with.

In I Am Number Four, you have formulaic tripe that feels mass-produced in order to score the most money possible. Which is no surprise, since this movie is a product of what is essentially an unethical novel/movie factory run by James Frey– that guy who got publicly excoriated on Oprah for his Million Little Pieces fabrication.

In fairness, there are some okay interactions and some of the dialogue snaps along nicely, and the effects are nearly flawless. But this is an empty, poorly thought-out story. At least it’s not too long and you get to watch Dianna Agron be a truly graceful person.

Content warnings: Some mid-level language, a fair amount of scifi violence

Writing: 1.5          Acting: 3          Overall: 2

Be number 1 and make this review the number 1 thing you share on your social networks, or mean Mogadorians will come and saute you in a white wine sauce.

Also, did you like this book and/or movie? Tell me what’s wrong with you in the comments and maybe we can get you some help.

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