Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) used to be one of the world's top hitmen, but nowadays he has left all that behind and is living a quiet, uneventful life in Rio de Janeiro. Or at least he was until a group of people showed up who had obviously been checking up on him; he had been dreading this day and had planned for its eventual arrival by setting up a booby trap around the boat he lived on at the harbour, but nevertheless when he is approached by a forceful young woman (Yayaying Rhatha Phongam) he tries to bluff his way through their conversation. It is not enough, he is too distinctive, and soon the henchmen are trying to bring him along with them by force, something he does not respond well to...
Or rather, he responds very well, in that he turns very violent and puts them all in their place, which is easy to apparently carry off when you have the training of the Stath. He does end the confrontation by jumping from a cable car to the top of a hang glider, which was both agreeably absurd and harking back to the time when Roger Moore as James Bond showed up in Rio as part of his Moonraker adventure, presumably the intention in spite of that film being generally thought of as one of the weakest in the series thanks to its excesses. But if this effort was intended to make you laugh, it buried its sense of humour down deep, as most of it came across as perfectly straight faced.
Surely there was a hint that something here was not meant to be considered at face value, if only because rather than seem like a twenty-first century action flick it was closer to an example from the nineteen-eighties, one of those efforts that packed everyone in the cast and crew up to the Philippines and let them loose on the local scenery. Certainly the globe-trotting of the Bond series was invoked as Statham's character was travelling across the world, but it seemed unlikely, thanks to some dodgy effects, that he went anywhere else than the studio, which was rendered nice to look at but evidently none too expensive for the budget. This was interesting since Mechanic: Resurrection represented a breed becoming dismayingly scarce.
That was the mid-budget action movie, indeed mid-budget genre movies were growing rare as it seemed only the major studios were interested in crafting the big budget ones, the indies were creating the low budget works, and anything in between was being crowded out of the market. So we should really support films like this, it wasn't the greatest in its class but it could at least afford some half-decent setpieces for its star to flex his muscles in (literally). Statham was aware he had a strong fanbase, and he was happy to give them what they wanted from a movie where he was headlining rather than being part of an ensemble which had given him a career boost but had left his followers wishing they could see a story where his role was the focus rather than on the periphery aside from a few sequences.
Not that there was anything wrong with those blockbusters he had proved himself for a wider audience with, but it was nice to see him getting back to what he did best, which was hand to hand combat and a gruff attitude that aptly gave him an appreciation that Charles Bronson had enjoyed in the seventies and eighties. Aptly because of course The Mechanic had originally been a Bronson vehicle, and though you could not imagine Chuck scaling the side of a building as Statham did here, that updating mechanism of the production was operating to the same parameters applied to a more recent leading man. Aside from that, it was business as usual, as Bishop got to romance Jessica Alba in truly superfluous scenes until she was kidnapped (that old chestnut yet again) and then was sent to assassinate three evildoers or else she would meet a sticky end at the hands of the bad guys. That these missions included a man drained out of a penthouse swimming pool suspended off the building and Tommy Lee Jones in very casual dress spoke to an eccentricity it would have been wise to pursue further to render it more distinctive, but as it was it puttered along divertingly, neither bad nor great, just a bit silly, mid-level watchable. Music by Mark Isham.
[Lionsgate's Blu-ray has five featurettes interviewing cast and crew as extras.]