There are two ways to handle sequels: Either continue storylines that were unresolved in the previous film, or start a whole new storyline. However, if a sequel opts for the latter, then it needs to treat the new story with the same care and attention the previous film offered, taking pains to set up histories, relationships, motivations and more. It’s not enough to simply take for granted that since audiences are already familiar with the protagonist that they’ll accept the new bad guy or the hero’s new squeeze. Mechanic: Resurrection makes precisely that mistake and assumes that necessary story foundations can be done away with and still present a satisfying film. Regrettably, the filmmakers are wrong.
Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) is living in hiding in Rio after he faked his death in the previous film. Despite his efforts to remain anonymous, Bishop is approached by a mysterious woman who wants to hire his services for her boss, a man named Crain (Sam Hazeldine), and she makes it clear that Bishop can’t refuse. But he does! And he makes a daring escape to Thailand. While investigating Crain, Bishop meets Gina (Jessica Alba), who is having trouble with her abusive boyfriend. Bishop rescues Gina, but suspects her as a tool of Crain to get Bishop to do Crain’s bidding. Despite that concern, they fall in love, and Crain nabs Gina and threatens to kill her unless Bishop executes three specific men and makes their deaths look accidental. Bishop has no choice but to carry out the mission.
Jason Statham has a singular brand as Hollywood’s last dedicated action hero. Whether it’s driving at breakneck speeds or just breaking necks, Statham is the actor for all of your action needs. As such, it’s disappointing that the projects he’s getting aren’t continually elevating his brand. Mechanic: Resurrection is action-oriented, but it doesn’t offer anything that audiences haven’t seen before. And even if one argues that nothing new exists in the world of action, then the other failing is that the film doesn’t offer action at a consistently high level. The opening sequence is promising with Statham showing off some unexpected moves, like pummeling a woman in the face with a table or shoving a man’s face into a lit barbecue, but after that the action becomes more mundane, with standard shooting and takedowns. The action isn’t bad; it just feels routine. And Bishop never feels challenged throughout the film even when he squares off against the main villain.
The relationship with Gina as the love of Bishop’s life is shoehorned into the film. While the first film had some heart with Ben Foster as the son of one of Bishop’s victims, Alba’s Gina just feels like a MacGuffin to get Bishop moving. Typically, that’s fine, but the film spends so much time building a background for Gina and a clever way to insert her into Bishop’s life that one would expect that Gina would feel more organic to the story. At least Ben Foster’s character had some kind of relationship with Bishop; Gina is just some pretty girl that’s coerced into luring Bishop into the trap. Why did Crain choose her – an obscure woman in Cambodia – when there are other pretty faces that are probably easier to get to?
The structure of the story is the biggest drag on Mechanic: Resurrection. It really should have begun by focusing on the villain Crain and his history with Bishop, that way audiences don’t have to watch Bishop explain in dialog who Crain is to him. Instead, the film shows the audience. Then, in the present day, Crain could run into a problem with the three men he needs killed. He doesn’t have the skill to do it himself, so he has to hire Bishop. Knowing that Bishop wouldn’t help freely, Crain could send his own girlfriend to win Bishop’s affections and then “kidnap” her, instead of the humanitarian worker angle that the current plot offers. When Bishop returns to rescue Gina only to discover that she’s a bad guy, perhaps Gina could have actually fallen in love with Bishop and help him defeat Crain, maybe even sacrificing herself in the process. That would have been far more satisfying than what audiences get, which is a prototypical action movie with bad guys who don’t behave believably.
It’s also worth noting that the R-rating is more of a gimmick than anything else. A lot of people get shot and there’s a little blood spatter, but it’s hardly visceral. Even when grenades blow up right next to people, there’s no gore. This criticism also extends to the sex scene between Statham and Alba. They’re both almost fully clothed and don’t touch anything beyond each other’s butts. In a modern society where actual filmed sex is usually viewed alone, this PG attempt is just embarrassing to watch as a group. If a film won’t give audiences the goods, then it should just do a tasteful fade out and fade in to the next day with the couple waking up next to each other.
Mechanic: Resurrection is not going to entertain everyone, and it will surprise no one. It’s all very standard and, at times, even sub-standard. Jason Statham and his brand of action will no doubt draw fans, but this is the kind of film that most viewers will discover on streaming services instead of the theater.