'Mechanic' gives action genre a tune up
Date: 5/31/2011May 30, 2011
By G. Michael Dobbs
A very funny guy and a solid action film are featured in this week's DVD review column.Ben Bailey: Road Rage
The Emmy Award-winning star of the hit show "Cash Cab" came to the stage of the Hu Ke Lau earlier this year and demonstrated his considerable comic ability. As the host of the game show on wheels, only a little of his skill as a comedian can be seen during the program, but now thanks to the release of this new DVD all of his fans can see just how funny he is, just as that standing room only crowd did in Chicopee.
Bailey references his show a good bit in his act, which is only natural, but the program is not the basis of his act. He is a great observational comic with a slightly aggressive edge. He opens his set with an inventive bit about being so nervous filling out a job application he puts his name in the wrong place and then tries to explain it.
He also does another funny routine about the perils of Google and being mesmerized by the sheer flow of information. It's not surprising that he addresses road rage, too, considering how much driving he does in New York City.
Besides a very funny hour, there are also some extras, the best of which is Bailey performing his song, "The Cash Cab Blues." He's got a good singing voice as well.
If you're a "Cash Cab" fan, or just like some edgy stand-up, check out "Road Rage."The Mechanic
There are many action stars out there, but very few can hold a candle to Jason Statham, a performer whom I feel doesn't get the respect he deserves. Statham is the star of this remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson movie of the same name and while the film may not be his best or most outrageous, it shows once again his ability to handle action material and dominate the screen.
Statham actually can act, as seen in his fine film "The Bank Job," and has a sense of humor that has been on display in films such as "Snatch." These are qualities many other action stars don't have. I wish he could make the break into other kinds of films, as Bruce Willis has done, and perhaps he will in the future.
In "The Mechanic," he plays Bishop, an assassin for hire who specializes in knocking off various criminals. He operates within a code that has been established by his mentor Harry (Donald Sutherland), but that system falls apart when Bishop's bosses order him to kill Harry.
Harry's son (Ben Foster) has established a reputation for being unreliable, but his father's death galvanizes him to straighten up and he appeals to Bishop to take him on as an apprentice in order to track down his father's killer.
Bishop struggles to try to find out what is actually happening within the organization that hires him while he deals with his grief over Harry.
Director Simon West has made some big splashy movies such as "Con Air," "Lara Croft Tomb Raider" and "The General's Daughter." This film has some good action sequences but its scope is more on characterization and plot than being a blockbuster, an approach I prefer.
I never saw the original, so I can't make a comparison, but I can say that if you're in a mood for an action picture, "The Mechanic" is a good choice.