Mechanic Resurrection: a retired hitman gets pulled back into action when his new girlfriend is captured and he’s forced to whack three seemingly unconnected criminals. Being the sequel to a somewhat derivative remake expectations going in aren’t exactly high; but the film just about meets them. Everything that isn’t an action/fighting scene is there to set up the next action/fighting scene; including a nonsensical plot and some ultra-dubious character motivation: within 10 mins a pragmatic contract killer has fallen and is risking it all for a random babe?!? It’s also ‘subconsciously Bond,’ with multiple exotic locations, submarine pen shootout, Rio cable cars, exploding boats etc. Not content leaning on one franchise, the story’s also centered around three “Impossible missions”: a prison kill, swimming pool kill, and boat-chaos… all fun, but none are particularly tense as Arthur Bishop never loses the upper hand. We get a rent-a-baddie (Hazeldine) with no charisma, personality, or memorable traits; and a rent-a-babe (Alba) with a suspiciously small wardrobe and whose cleavage is deeper than her character. On the upside, Jason Statham is back in his bone-breaking action lane; Tommy Lee Jones is chewing it up (but is literally in two scenes) and the film has an aesthetically pleasing, vibrant, Lucy-esque visual style (although some of the CGI is very ropy). Mechanic Resurrection is an uninspired action film with only one reason to watch it; Statham returning to his action roots… if you like mile-high body counts, entertaining dispatches, and Jason Statham punching & shooting his way through obstacles look no further than this.
In the Electric Mist (Dans la brume électrique): a New Orleans detective is trying to link the murdering of local prostitutes with a 1965 lynching and corrupt local businessmen. So you’re sitting there thinking this is a normal(-ish) police investigation then 40 minutes in BAM! Our lead is taking advice from – and having conversations with – a Confederate soldier ghost… WTF?? For a sleepy town there’s also a whole lotta murdering happening with very little law intervention. Tommy Lee Jones plays the lead pretty well, but as a grouchy, craggy, snarly, old-school detective – it’s nothing we haven’t seen already. By the time the final act rolls round there’s almost too much going on; new murders, old murders, suspicious movie set, troubled film stars, conspiracies, kidnapping. The confusion is compounded by almost everyone having a comically hillbilly name, and some fairly hooky narration. In the end ‘Electric Mist’ is watchable enough, but completely unremarkable, flat, and has a look and ‘vibe’ of a film that could be 20 years older than it is. Ultimately, it’s a pretty big waste of an impressive cast.
The Hunted: the FBI turn to a master survivalist/tracker to hunt down one of his former star pupils, who has since become a rogue special forces operative. Tommy Lee Jones is guilty of a little overacting, although he does spend most of the runtime poking, touching and staring at his surroundings for clues – so I guess he’s making up for that. Del Toro does his tried and tested stone cold killer routine, but with such dialogue-light characters neither feels properly developed. The underlying issue being that you should really be giving guys of this caliber deeper, more rounded characters to play with. The film’s cut well for the action scenes, with a few standout heavy-handed, bloody fights – however there are a few moments where Del Toro feels more like a bogeyman than a human. The film’s full of good locations, good story, good leads – but it somehow fails to fully engage or grip you. Biggest flaw is the lack of mood music, when it appears it’s very low volume, and makes the film feel flat, and vacuous. Director William Friedkin could have got away with spending less on big stars for empty roles, and more for big music over flat scenes. The Hunted starts off with a bang, but loses focus and audience by about the half-way mark, relying on big, macho action to keep interest up.
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada: a modern western that’s divided between the ways of the old Wild West and the attitudes towards immigration in present America. It’s an outstanding directorial debut by Tommy Lee Jones, who also put in a fine performance: this was probably the biggest factor for his casting in No Country For Old Men. Barry Pepper’s personal journey is also powerful and believable, shame he’s never grabbed a decent leading man part. Although it’s quite slow, the story is so simple and powerful that it draws you in completely, and as the film goes on it all comes together quite nicely. The scenery on offer is magnificent, taking you from a tiny town in West Texas over the border, deserts and down to a Mexican paradise. It’s also got some of the driest humour you’ll find, with the highlight being a corpse comedy side story – morbidly dark but bizarrely funny. Simple and well executed story but the no-frills approach won’t be for everyone.
No Country for Old Men: Javier Bardem stole the show for me as a believably chilling psychopath, although Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones both nailed their characters with conviction. The story’s brilliant, and has the trademark Coen brothers look, feel and occasional black comedy moments. There’s also a couple few scenes where the suspense is unbearable, something that’s hard to pull off. Set in 1980, it says a lot about the new-age crime, criminals and violence at the time and how traditional police struggle to solve, or even understand it. The last 30 minutes are quite weak, and the loose ends will annoy some people. Top-drawer film that it well worth watching.