In "The Mechanic" (CBS), director Simon West's violence-fueled remake of the 1972 thriller starring Charles Bronson, a duo of criminals spend their days planning creative ways to kill people for money -- then executing those plans -- and their nights trolling the brothels of their native New Orleans in search of base physical satisfaction.
An unwholesome daily routine, to say the least, and not one likely to attract an audience of taste.
The heir to Bronson's role as crack assassin-for-hire Arthur Bishop is brooding he-man Jason Statham.
Early on, machinations at the top levels of the shadowy organization for which Bishop works -- presided over by callous company man Dean Sanderson (Tony Goldwyn) -- lead to the murder of Bishop's mentor Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland). That leaves Harry's volatile, ne'er-do-well son Steve (Ben Foster) broke, bitter and spoiling for a fight.
So, somewhat improbably, Bishop takes on the hot-headed lad as an apprentice. But, by contrast to Bishop's methodical approach to his work -- his motto, inherited from Harry, is "amat victoria curam" (loosely, "victory favors the well-prepared") -- Steve proves to be a careless, vengeance-hungry loose cannon.
Though the script by Richard Wenk and Lewis John Carlino -- Carlino also penned the 1972 screenplay -- includes some clever plot turns, these all too often result in blood-spattered scenes of mayhem. Similarly, Bishop and Steve's sleazy encounters with prostitutes in the Crescent City's underworld -- during one of which Steve's taste for brutality in all its forms comes to the fore -- are portrayed with undue explicitness.
The film contains excessive gory violence, some of it sadistic; strong sexual content, including graphic scenes of prostitution, lesbian-themed pornography and nongraphic male homosexual activity; upper female and brief rear nudity; a half-dozen uses of profanity; and much rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.
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