Saturday 4 June 2011

DVD Reviews

The Mechanic
Director: Simon West
Starring: Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland
Momentum Pictures
Available from Monday 6th June
Review by Rob Wade

Arthur Bishop is “The Mechanic” – an elite agency assassin with a unique talent for cleanly eliminating targets with deadly skill and total emotional detachment. The only relationship in his life is with his mentor and good friend Harry Mckenna. When the agency forces Bishop to kill Harry following rumours of a leak within the team, The Mechanic sets out on a self-imposed assignment to take down those responsible and avenge his mentor’s death, while at the same time forming a deadly partnership with Harry’s vengeful son Steve…

Say what you like about Jason Statham (and a lot of people on the Internet would probably have precious little to do without doing so), but he is known for one thing: making movies that would certainly fall into the category of E14, in that they contain an abundance of guns, explosions, swearing and usually tits and sex. In this case, The Mechanic ticks all of those boxes in a big way. How, though, is the movie as a movie, ignoring the awesome stuff we come to expect from Statham’s movies? The answer is surprisingly positive. The Mechanic, while not doing anything massively involved or deep in the way of storyline, is a really enjoyable movie.

One of the criticisms that often befall movies starring Jason Statham is that he plays the same character in every single film he does. Now, granted, there is *some* weight to that argument, but one could argue the same of John Cusack, and he’s awesome, so that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Besides, filmmakers are obviously becoming wise to this, and Statham’s character is a man of few words and even fewer moments of emotion. In the case of this movie, it fits really well, and actually makes Bishop a much more believable character as a result. Statham plays him particularly well, with a subtle layer of regret tucked away very deep below the surface of a cold-hearted bastard. The movie also has an element of the classic Leon about it, in that the protagonist begins to make more mistakes from taking an orphan under their wing.

The star of the show, though, is Ben Foster, who plays Mckenna’s troubled son, trying to come to terms with his father’s death while at the same time trying to make him proud posthumously by taking revenge on his father’s killer. Foster is an actor who’s shown his calibre in previous movies like Hostage and Pandorum, and it’s refreshing to continue to see him in films of this sort of level of fame, and long may it continue.

The revenge element of the story is one of the areas, however, where you’d be forgiven for thinking that the film would follow a predictable course, and to an extent it’s a fair assumption, though the ending of the film finishes on a high. Oh, and if you're making a movie called "The Mechanic", and everyone refers to Statham as "The Mechanic", it's probably a good idea to explain where the nickname comes from. I find it hard to believe that everyone in the movie knows that he's got a sports car he's been working on for years. Make no mistake, though: this is a totally enjoyable and watchable movie starring Jason Statham. There are increasingly high numbers of these.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
: Shit-kickin’s, gun-shootin’s, a fire extinguisher pin to the face, a harpoon to the leg.
Sex/Nudity: Boobs and bums, a brief sex scene.
Swearing: “Fuck”, “Shit”, “motherfucker”. Sutherland is probably the most surprising pottymouth in this one.
Summary: A really E14, if a little predictable, action movie. Statham is the highlight here, as movie makers begin to put him in better roles he will only get more E14. 9/10

Fading of the Cries
Starring: Brad Dourif, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Mackenzie Rosman
Director: Brian A. Metcalf
Lions Gate

Available Now - £7.49 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

“Jacob, a young man armed with a deadly sword, saves Sarah, a teenage girl, from Mathias (Brad Dourif), while in search of an ancient necklace that had belonged to Sarah's uncle. Jacob sets out to get Sarah home safely, running through streets, fields, churches and underground tunnels, while being pursued by hordes of demonic creatures. Along the way, both come to terms with the demons within themselves -Sarah begins to understand her hatred towards her mother and sister may be unjustified and Jacob discovers the secrets of his past, realizing the only way to truly defeat the demons is to return to the very place his family was murdered.”

That’s the back of the box, and if you think that’s a jumbled heap of confused characters, relationships and situations normally only seen during a Jeremy Kyle Show marathon, then I’m sure you can only just about begin to contemplate what the movie itself is like. It’s a well known fact of life that 80% of everything is crap, but when talking about fantasy movies, for some reason the stats rise to 95% (ie. everything made outside of the 1980s, with the exception of the The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Stardust). Fading of the Cries does nothing to really help the genre.

The narrative leaps around from character to character and scene to scene with no regard for the audience. Every now and again Jacob and Sarah have to run from a horde of zombie/possessed people (they look just like tramps, to be honest), and there’s no action of excitement. Just mild confusion. The plot squirts and slides all over the place like someone stepping a paper-bag full very moist dog crap.

Oh, and finally, all of the characters in the movie seem to think that the word “Necromancer” is pronounced “neck-ROM-answer”. For fucks sake...this is why books are better than movies.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Some kung-fu, sword fighting and other fantasy action sequences.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: None.
Summary: Nothing could save this movie from the pick-and-mix of its own editing. Scarily, though, it could have been worse. 2/10

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