Critics Consensus: The Mechanic Could Use A Tune-Up

Plus, The Rite is far from heavenly.

by Tim Ryan | Friday, Jan. 28 2011

This week at the movies, we've got a vengeful assassin (The Mechanic, starring Jason Statham and Ben Foster), and an exorcism education (The Rite, starring Anthony Hopkins and Rutger Hauer). What do the critics have to say?

The Mechanic

53%

If you're looking for an action star that can simultaneously seem both tough-as-nails and emotionally vulnerable, Jason Statham is your man. Critics say the star brings a level of emotional heft and gritty brawn to The Mechanic, which is otherwise a so-so action flick with some decent thrills but little originality. Based upon a 1972 Charles Bronson vehicle (pun intended), Statham stars as an existential hit man who seeks vengeance after a close friend is killed. He teams up with his friend's son (Ben Foster) to get the bad guys, but soon our heroes are on the run themselves. The pundits say The Mechanic is pretty standard stuff, with little to distinguish it beyond Statham, who's efficient and cool as always. (Check out Foster's Five Favorite Films here.)

The Rite

21%

Given the number of horror flicks who turn demonic possession into schlock, The Rite gets points for taking the battle between good and evil seriously. However, critics say there's a difference between being serious and being dull, and despite a typically classy performance from Anthony Hopkins, The Rite is too much of a slog to deliver much in the way of thrills. Colin O'Donoghue stars as a seminary student of shaky faith who travels to the Vatican to learn how to perform exorcisms. Under the tutelage of Father Lucas (Hopkins), the young man soon finds that the powers of evil are very strong indeed, and he must conjure the strength to fight for good. The pundits say The Rite has its moments, but Hopkins can't elevate a script that takes way to long to get moving. (Check out this week's Total Recall, in which we count down star Rutger Hauer's best-reviewed movies.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Poetry, about a sixtysomething woman who enrolls in a poetry class to stave off personal demons, is at 100 percent.
  • Strongman, a documentary about the sad decline of a champion muscleman, is at 100 percent.
  • Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster, starring Donnie Yen as a legendary martial artist who finds hard times in colonial Hong Kong, is at 88 percent.
  • Lemmy, a doc about the legendary frontman of Motorhead, is at 82 percent.
  • Kaboom, a sci-fi black comedy about a group of swingin' college students, is at 81 percent.
  • When We Leave, a drama about a woman trying to escape an abusive relationship in Istanbul, is at 80 percent.

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