Although Jason Statham is a charismatic performer, he is not seen to best advantage in this routine action film, desultorily directed by Dennis Gansel. Statham first essayed the role of hit man Arthur Bishop five years ago in The Mechanic, a loose remake of the semi-classic Charles Bronson film from 1972. That 2011 film, which I never reviewed, is decent, with lots of deadly action, but doesn’t have the nostalgic charm of the 1972 version. Now, Bishop is back causing mayhem across the globe, from Rio de Janeiro to Thailand and Sydney, Australia.
Gansel’s film certainly is slick enough; it plays like an anti-James Bond film in which we’re supposed to admire the hit man (Statham) forced into killing people to save the girl he likes (Jessica Alba). Bishop is as deadly as James Bond, or more so; I would estimate that he kills or severely injures an average of one man per minute of the film’s 98 minute running time. Maybe more. It gets a little ridiculous, especially when his targets are well protected by people trained to do so, and yet none of those henchmen or bodyguards can either shoot straight or fight worth a damn against this one, often barefoot, man, who is at times unarmed.
The story speeds along because Gansel doesn’t waste any time on developing the plot or the characters. Stealthy scenes of setting up the kills and fights are the order of the day, with one completely unconvincing love scene thrown in for good measure. To be fair, one of the kills — the one in Sydney — is quite spectacular. But don’t look for logic, or good editing, or romantic chemistry, because they are not present. Former Bond girl Michelle Yeoh is on hand in a thankless role that isn’t physical at all; Tommy Lee Jones, at almost seventy, has much more to do in terms of physicality. But none of that matters; this is Statham’s show, and he doesn’t disappoint.
If you are looking for a movie in which one man shoots, stabs, maims, head-butts and throws people all over the place, this is it. If you want a sensible story to along with it, you’ll have to make it up as you watch. ☆ 1/2. 30 August 2016.