As a lover of The Mechanic in its first incarnation, I can say that I liked the remake for the most part. I don't necessarily believe that Michael Winner is an untouchable director. The first three Death Wish movies are very, very good, but his resume is otherwise rather thin on quality. The original is especially bold in that there is no dialogue for the first 16 minutes of the film, as Bronson's Arthur Bishop prepares for and carries out a hit. Simon West certainly pays homage to this intro sans dialogue, but it's the 21st Century. People are neither as intelligent nor as patient as they were in 1972. The thought is there, nonetheless.
I think most of the people who frequent this blog would share my feelings regarding both Bronson and Jason Statham. They are both uniquely awesome, and they each have a je ne sais quoi that sets them apart from their action star contemporaries. While each one is very different from one another, there is an intrinsic likability to each actor that makes the casting of the lead a push.
And then there are the deaths. One of my favorite things about action movies is the ingenuity the film's crew takes in offing the bad guys. One of my favorite deaths ever was when an out-of-bullets Martin Blank offs his rival, Grocer, with a TV set in Grosse Pointe Blank. It's hilarious, and there is the added touch of his dead legs twitching from the left over electrical current* in the TV. The Mechanic has one in particular where I very audibly guffawed and couldn't stop laughing at its audacity. No, it isn't Rambo, but it delivers enough that you can't help but smiling coming out of the film... at least if you are as demented as I am.
*Or at least that's what my scientifically challenged mind rationalized the twitching to have resulted from.
The imperative question here (and really with any film) is did it succeed at accomplishing what it set out to do? While staying faithful to the source material, Simon West's vision of The Mechanic managed to entertain while rectifying the largest shortcoming of the original by trading out the dull Jan-Michael Vincent for the electric Ben Foster--and there was nudity. Is it high art? Of course not. If you go to movies as much as I do, this is fun if not entirely memorable action fare. I like Jason Statham, and if you buy into him, you're more than likely going to like it, too.
The only thing that could have been done different would have been--as Chad posited when we walked out of the movie--if Steve McKenna had lulled his first target into a false sense of security by going all the way with him first and then taking care of business. That would have been a weird-ass turn, and I'd have been all for it.