The Mechanic fixes up pretty smart on Region A-locked US Blu-ray with a superb 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 2.4:1. My only hesitation with giving it the highest of praise is in the fact that the opening scene is very different from the rest of the movie, shot with the oversaturated stylisation of a Tony Scott film (only without the crazy editing) and therefore boasting a much higher level of noise, and much hotter palette. I’m guessing this was done to help with the Columbian setting, but it is a little jarring in comparison with the rest of the movie. Still, technically, the transfer isn’t to fault for this – it’s a stylistic choice – and the transfer depicts everything the director intended, extremely well. Detail is spectacular, from the designer stubble on the two leads to the straggly locks of Donald Sutherland, both near and long shots standing up to the closest of scrutiny, with no signs of any edge enhancement or digital tampering – like DNR – to affect the image. There’s a nice filmic texture to the piece, which never gets out of hand (other than during that opening sequence, as aforementioned) and the colour scheme is reasonably accurately represented throughout, still bordering on the warm side even after it calms down following the overheated opening (and accentuating the CG blood splatter – why do they still do that? It just looks cheap). Blacks are strong and solid throughout, and it’s certainly an outstanding video presentation, which in spite of an odd start, still marks a demo-quality effort.
On the aural front, The Mechanic’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track will likely blow you away, a potent audio offering which succeeds at providing an excellent accompaniment to the explosive main feature. Dialogue – what little there is – comes across clearly and coherently from the frontal array, but the track is obviously dominated by the effects coverage, and by the engaging score. Effects are not just of the loud variety – with ambient noises coming across extremely well, creating a great background atmosphere during even the quieter, less action-packed sequences. Of course, the highlight comes during the more dramatic moments, both in terms of effects and in terms of pumping score, with gunshots ringing out around your living room, explosions thundering through with powerful low end rumble, and car crashes feeling positively painful; the sub-Bourne scoring also kicking it into high gear at the same time. With potent LFE action, which permeates even the slightest atmospheric touch in the least expected fashion, what more could you really ask for from a track? This is an unquestionably excellent sonic presentation, equalling, if not besting the quality of the video.
In terms of extras, the disc sports a couple of offerings which might be of interest. First up we get a selection of Deleted and Extended scenes (totalling 11 minutes), all of which are utterly throwaway other than the first one – and extended opening sequence that features more of Statham kicking ass. I’m guessing they removed it because the first hit was supposed to show how clean and effective he was at not just leaving no trace, but also being undiscovered along the way – but I’m also sure that action fans would have wanted this extra ass-kicking to be including, particularly since Statham splits the rest of the action duties unevenly between himself and Foster.
There’s also an 8 minute Tools of the Trade: Inside the Action Featurette, which offers up the usual interview snippets from the cast and crew, whilst also briefly exploring the appeal of hitman movies, the action elements in this production, and the more adventurous stunt sequences. It’s not quite EPK standard – it’s better than that – but it’s far from a noteworthy offering.
Finally we get a bunch of previews that play on start-up.
The Mechanic is hitman movie plotting-by-numbers, a predictable, somewhat disjointed, and distinctly shallow remake which follows the original closely, despite the fact that modern audience crave more today than just a very simple setup and a few noisy confrontations. It’s nowhere near as good the recent flawed-but-punchy Hanna; hell, despite its promising opening, it’s not even as good as thediluted Hitman videogame adaption. And the benchmark for assassin (and protégé) movies, Leon? Forget about it. If you want just another Statham actioner – and you don’t care much about the quality, so long as it’s new – then you might get away with this; and the same logic applies if you just want a new action film in general. A bad film this is not, but it’s pretty far from good too.
On Region A-locked US Blu-ray we get spectacular video and audio, and nothing particularly worthy on the extra front (although this is not a bare bones release by far), and fans of the film should consider this a fairly good release to pick up and add to their collection. Fans of Statham, or action movies in general, will probably find it hard to resist checking this out - and a rental isn't the end of the world - but it's definitely worth testing first to see if it warrants a permanent place in your home. I don't think I'm particularly hard to please when it comes to action films, and even I think we deserve better than this from a non-DTV production.
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