I’m surprised at the career of Jason Statham. When he began it appeared that he would be on a meteoric rise to stardom comparable to the likes of Stallone and Willis. And yet while he continues to make movies at a steady pace the results are not near the level they should be. It puzzles me because each movie he makes has been excellent when it comes to action fare and more so when you watch things like REVOLVER, a personal favorite of mine.
When Statham took on the challenge or recreating the role of Arthur Bishop made famous by Charles Bronson I thought it was a perfect match. Both men had a rough good looks and handled themselves well in action films. The film did well and seemed to raise Statham but who would have thought a sequel would be in the works, even more so when *SPOILER* the character dies at the end of the film. So color me surprised when this film came out.
MERCHANIC: RESURRECTION returns Bishop to the world of the living, taking it easy on a cabin cruiser in Rio only to find himself set upon by an old friend turned adversary. The film opens with an operative working for Crain, the ex-friend, telling Bishop he needs his set of skills for three killings. If you didn’t know already, Bishop was the perfect anti-hero, a hit man with a conscience who could make any murder seem natural. Refusing to take the job, Bishop takes on the operative and her henchmen, escaping and heading off to a secluded island in the South Pacific.
Under the protection of Mei (Michelle Yeoh), Bishop leads a simple life. Then one day a woman names Gina (Jessica Alba) shows up on the island, bruised by the brute of a man she’s sailed there with. When it appears the man is about to kill her, Mei asks Bishop to step in. He does so ending in the death of the man and Gina taking up residence on the island. It isn’t long before she tells him her back story and reveals to him that she was sent by Crain to bring him back. Not by choice though as Crain is using the school of young girls in Cambodia where she was working as hostages. When Crain’s men show, Bishop obliges him.
Crain tells Bishop he wants him to use his unique abilities to take out three targets. Only giving him enough information to handle one at a time, he first sets Bishop to a Southeast Asian island prison, an impassable location with little hope of getting in and out of let alone killing someone inside the prison. Let’s be serious, if this assassination failed then we’d be watching a very short film. With each target assigned to Bishop he moves closer to freedom for Gina, but only if he trusts Crain. He does not.
The movie works on a number of levels. To begin with Statham does a great job of portraying the calm, cool collected character of Bishop to the max. Bishop is all business on the surface but there is more than that cool exterior to the man. He is a knight errant, a man with a soul who tries to steer clear of battles that are not his but who will step forward when he sees a damsel in distress. He can’t help himself. It adds levels that many action starts find difficult to pull off but that Statham does with ease.
The character of Bishop is a fascinating one in the way he works as well. Not only is he a cold killer when the need arises he is meticulous when it comes to how he carries out his tasks. Bishop makes plans and then goes over them again and again, looking for the cracks in the wall that his targets all have somewhere. He uses those faults to drive a wedge in that results in their demise. While some use just a gun in hand, Bishop uses a pictures, calipers and high tech gadgets he can purchase anywhere in pure form and then adapt for his needs. While Bishop has the hand to hand skills and weapons that he uses to take out a target, it is his mind that is the deadliest weapon he possesses.
The supporting cast here does a fine job as well but in truth the word supporting describes them quite well. Statham takes center stage from start to finish here. Alba does a great job in her role, showing that she’s not a one note actress or just a pretty face. She carries off the role of Gina quite well making her a sympathetic character caught in the middle of thigs who falls for a man who once made a living killing people. Now his skills come into play to help her.
The movie is rated R for language and violence. Had they dropped out a few words my guess is it would have rated a PG-13 but action films feel the need to have that R rating there in order to draw more viewers or so they think. It doesn’t matter in the long run. What does matter is that Statham has turned in another great action film that entertains from beginning to end.