Reader, I’m not going to demean us both by pretending to remember anything about “The Mechanic” (2011) except for the fact that I saw it. (I already looked to see if I wrote a review. I didn’t.) It was during that period where every January there was a new movie about Jason Statham getting into fights and killing people, but it wasn’t one of the good movies from that batch. Or else I’d remember it, duh.
How it got a sequel is a mystery whose solution doesn’t interest me, but “Mechanic: Resurrection” (I guess he died in the first one?) isn’t bad when it focuses on Statham’s character, elite hitman Arthur Bishop, doing what he does best: planning and carrying out assassinations that must look like accidents. Whether suction-cupping his way up a skyscraper or getting himself thrown in prison to get close to a target — and then escaping from the island fortress with the aid of shark-repellant cream — Statham’s hard-edged persona and willingness to do whatever ridiculous thing is required of him make him an appealing action hero.
The problem, of course, is that there’s a plot surrounding those scenes, and the plot is garden-variety action trash. (The screenplay is by first-timers Philip Shelby and Tony Mosher; the director is Dennis Gansel, way off course from his touching Nazi youth drama “Before the Fall.”) Bishop, retired and hiding in Rio, is dragged back into murder-for-hire by an arms dealer, Craine (Sam Hazeldine), who’s trying to eliminate his competition. Craine plants a pretty girl named Gina (Jessica Alba) as bait for Bishop, waiting for him to get attached to her so Craine can use her as leverage. Bishop and Gina realize what Craine’s plan is, pretend to fall in love so his spies will see it … and then actually fall in love, defeating the purpose and making it easy for Craine to kidnap her and threaten to kill her if Bishop doesn’t do his bidding.
At the 70-minute mark, Tommy Lee Jones appears as one of Craine’s rival arms dealers, giving false hope that now, at last, things are going to get exciting. But don’t fall for it. Jones is just slumming here, perhaps fulfilling court-ordered community service, while Statham pays the bills however he can. May they both be put to better use soon.
C (1 hr., 38 min.; )