Table of contents

The Mechanic (2011)

Stone cold killer

Jason Statham is neither a handsome nor a witty man. He looks like he’s been through things. He looks tough and toughened, more so when silent. He is a man and, like all men, looks somewhat worn out. He plays an assassin, murdering those who are better off dead, as he is ordered, and for a commonly agreed fee.

Ben Foster is a boy. He looks hysterical, not angry. He lacks grim determination, for he has not seen the world, does not know good and evil, and has no idea for what men live, fight, and die. – Like most of us, he lacks the experience of the harshness of life and of the necessity of war. We could probably do with some advice on the matter, not least of all because we are aware that both wars and harsh men are important problems in our countries. Unfortunately, the only likely teacher dies halfway through the first act…

The young males like the violence, apparently thinking that being professional replaces having good judgment. These mechanics – not mere assassins, but men dealing with machines expertly – design the best way to commit murders they are ordered to commit. There is therefore a great difference between being a good assassin and a good man: good men judge of whom they kill, not merely of how. Good men, therefore, live together with the human beings in peace, with whom they agree on how to live and, therefore, when to kill. Good assassins live as enemies of mankind, because they can offer no reasonable hope or assurance of peace, and no agreement about what is good for all men. Therefore, they have every reason to fear for their lives and men also know enough to fear them – hence, war.

The father, an assassin, disappointed with his son, trains another man, our protagonist, to take his legacy, who eventually murders him. His son becomes an assassin, trained by our protagonist, whom he eventually attempts to murder, for revenge. Knowledge of human affairs would have taught our protagonist that you cannot destroy the father and then save the son; it would have taught the father that you cannot make an assassin and then hope to live with him; it would have taught the son that you cannot learn to kill and then trust other murderers. Had the father not wanted a son like himself, he could have lived with the son he had. He trusted the assassin he did train, who was like a son in that he resembled him. It seems that killing and learning about the human beings are very different things, because it is some kind of love of family that destroys these assassins.