Action, 93 Minutes, 2011:
[Wife and kids are away on their last weekend jaunt before school starts so while I catch up on some mind-numbingly tedious work I’m distracting myself with bad movies. This is the second.]
Jason Statham may arguably be called the thinking-man’s action star. (In case you’re wondering Bruce Willis is the everyman, Arnold Schwarzenegger is the machine, Jackie Chan is the clown, Sylvester Stallone is the schlub and Ben Affleck is the mistake.) His films tend to favor moody, complex plots and style over substance punctuated by extended physically brutal fight scenes. While this isn’t the best Jason Statham movie ever, it is a very good one.
When a contract killer is forced to kill his mentor he takes the mentor’s estranged son on as an apprentice. The killer, known for his calculating, methodical style, is forced to deal with his new student’s aggressiveness and ego. A reasonable argument can be made the plot is well-trodden territory but I think there’s some life left in it. Of course action movies don’t necessarily need a novel premise to succeed but it does help.
As a remake of the classic 1972 Charles Bronson film of the same name [IMDB] this movie had a lot to prove. It holds up well compared to the original but, as is often the case, cannot replace it. Where Bronson can’t compete with Statham’s physicality Statham has yet to cultivate the pure screen presence that was Bronson’s trademark. However Ben Foster, as the hit-man in training, handily bests Jan-Michael Vincent’s lifeless performance in the original and is a definite highlight.
This is a straight, no-nonsense action movie in the classic mold and fans of the original should make an effort to see it. People that don’t like Statham’s style aren’t going to find anything to change their minds. Fans are going to like this as well as most of his other movies and get treated to an excellent performance by Foster as well.