Monday, 29 August 2016


Starring: Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones
Writers: Philip Shelby, Tony Mosher
Director: Dennis Gansel

Professional assassin Arthur Bishop (Statham) is dead. Or that's what he'd like everyone to think in any case. Unfortunately, an old acquaintance of his tracks him down and makes him an offer he can't refuse: take out three high-profile targets and make every hit look like an accident. If Bishop doesn't succeed, his new girlfriend Gina (Alba) is going to end up dead. And that's properly dead, not pretend dead like Bishop...

Mechanic: Resurrection reminded me of a straight to video action thriller I'd have happily hired in the late 1980s had I seen it sitting on the shelves of the rental shop. Regardless of the fact that this is a 2016 film it shares a certain amount of DNA with those grainy VHS guns and explosions flicks I popped into the player of a Friday evening many, many years ago. It has a bigger budget and CGI effects but that doesn't mean it looks any more convincing than an Italian post-apocalyptic Mad Max rip-off filmed entirely in a quarry.

For starters, most of the dialogue is terrible and everyone, but everyone, gets to take their turn on the Clunky Script-O-Wheel. Some pull off their awful lines with aplomb - I'm looking at you, Tommy Lee Jones, by far the best thing in this and a load of other movies, you may have what amounts to little more an extended cameo in M:R but you're easily the most memorable thing about it.

In the middle ground, struggling manfully (and womanfully) with their lines are Statham and Alba. Their opening act meeting and subsequent romantic entanglement is, how shall I put it, awkward. They don't especially convince as a couple which makes the ensuing carnage less easy to get on board with. Well, it does for people who don't really watch this kind of movie anyway. For me, it was just a question of getting through the first twenty-five minutes of turgid set-up and giving The Stath a reason to thump and shoot his way through scores of bad guys which is really the reason for this movie existing.

And you do get quite a lot of bad guys being thumped or shot (or thumped and then shot) for your buck. If you're expecting the connecting tissue of this movie to be complex and nuanced then you are in for something of a disappointment. This is 99 minutes of almost unrelenting dumbness, pausing only to explain the cleverness of the assassinations, then realising they're not all that clever and then pointing to somewhere else and saying "Look, another fight scene!".

That's not to say I wasn't entertained by the Mechanic's resurrection. It may be absolutely ridiculous from start to finish, it may have a bad guy who could have taken his enemies out without having to hire Bishop (which also forces him to contoct a needlessly convoluted kidnap plot), it may have henchmen who give The Stath a crucial couple of seconds' grace instead of just shooting at him straight away but do you know what? It's quite a bit of fun when it comes down to it. It may be a bad movie but it's a good bad movie. Sit down with a roomful of mates, crack open a few beers and I'm willing to bet you'll think this movie is a hoot.

Just quickly going back to the Clunky Script-O-Wheel again, the guy who comes off the worst just happens to be Crain, the Big Bad of the movie played by Sam Hazeldine. The stuff poor Sam has to say makes him seem neither very threatening nor very smart and the anticipated climactic face-off between Crain and Bishop is never a particularly enticing prospect because you're almost certain that Bishop is going to take about two seconds to beat the living crap out of his nemesis. Still, Crain seems to have a never-ending supply of thugs for hire so maybe his tactics are to just put as many of those in Bishop's way as possible - which means there's usually a scrap no more than ten minutes away.

If your brain accidentally engages during Mechanic: Resurrection you're probably going to hate it so make sure it's switched off for the duration (don't even leave it on standby). There's so much about it that's thuddingly awful and yet it has a goofy, clumsy charm that somehow keeps you with it. By the time you leave the cinema you'll have forgotten it and I get the feeling this film wouldn't have it any other way. For prime Stath, however, you can't go far wrong by revisiting the Transporter movies.

Oh, one last thing though. Casting Michelle Yeoh and then having her kick no ass at all? That's a crime worthy of sending Arthur Bishop after the guys responsible.

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Starring: Ricky Gervais, Jo Hartley, Doc Brown
Writer: Ricky Gervais
Director: Ricky Gervais

A long time after gaining some degree of fame from fly-on-the-wall documentary The Office, David Brent is back. This time he's about to take a break from his current job as a sales rep to go touring with his band Foregone Conclusion, hoping that their live performances will lead to a record deal...

Anyone who's seen The Office (and there must be quite a lot of you out there) will find themselves on familiar territory here and if you're expecting to chuckle and cringe in equal measure that's exactly what David Brent's latest outing delivers. You may very well be watching whole scenes through your fingers, it gets that uncomfortable in places.

If this type of humour doesn't float your boat then Life On The Road isn't going to convert you. It doesn't exactly break any new ground and if you were irritated by The Brentmeister before then you're going to be just as irritated, if not more, by him now. Of course, if Gervais' comic creation hits your particular spot chances are you're going to find plenty to amuse and entertain.

Personally, I'm a huge fan of The Office and I have to admit that I actually laughed until I cried during one excruciating sequence featuring a song about "the handicapped" which is a prime example of Brent trying so hard to be politically correct that he misses the point entirely and concocts a set of lyrics that manages to offend pretty much everybody.

As the movie progresses it does throw in more and more appeals to the audience's sympathy and to be honest, it does have a point when it suggests that Brent is actually a decent bloke underneath it all. He just tries too hard - way too hard - to be liked and he believes that he has to entertain people constantly. Yes, he does behave like a monumental pillock a lot of the time but there are moments where it's difficult not to feel sorry for him and by the end I was hoping that somehow his disaster-filled tour would close in inexplicably successful fashion.

So, in the final analysis, does one of Berkshire's most famous (if fictitous) sons deserve another outing? On balance, I'd certainly say yes. Life On The Road doesn't quite match up to the very best episodes of The Office, perhaps because Gervais isn't surrounded by the familiar faces of the Wernham Hogg set-up, but it hits most of the right notes and is often quite sweet. When you're not clenching up and wishing that Brent would just stop talking instead of digging himself into a deeper and more embarrassing hole.

And speaking of embarrassing holes....nah, I'm not going to go all Brent.