The Mechanic
   Director: Simon West, Millennium Films, Rated MA, 107 Mins

The 1972 version of ‘The Mechanic’ is considered one of Charles Bronson’s best performances and it is no surprise to see another action star Jason Statham (‘The Transporter’) reprise Bronson’s role of Arthur Bishop in Simon West’s action-oriented remake of the same name.
   As a professional hit man Bishop (Statham) prides himself in eliminating his targets so that they appear as if they are accidental – as depicted in the opening scenes where his first victim, a drug dealer, drowns in his swimming pool.
The Mechanic
   To Bishop’s surprise, his next hit turns out to be his old friend Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland) who apparently has betrayed his business partner Dean (Tony Goldwyn) – Bishop’s boss.
   After killing Harry the remorseful Bishop agrees to take on as his apprentice Harry’s rebellious son Steve (Ben Foster from ‘The Messenger’) – a deadly partnership until Steve finds out who his father’s executioner is and embarks on his own vendetta.
   West (whose credits include such hits as ‘Con Air’ and ‘Lara Croft-Tomb Raider’) has stuck with the thrilling storyline seen in the original version but injected some of his renown high octane sequences besides adding a couple of extra twists to his gripping conclusion.
   This latest version of ‘The Mechanic’ is certainly made for an action actor like Statham who revels in such roles but this is not the case for Foster whose portrayal of his character comes over at times as cumbersome and inconsequential.
   Despite lacking the tension of the Bronson movie there is still much to enjoy in this entertaining action thriller especially the smooth performance of Jason Statham as ‘The Mechanic’ – who shows that he always keeps one step ahead of his enemies.
VIC'S VERDICT:       3 ½ Rubber Stamps

Red Riding Hood
   Director: Catherine Hardwicke, Warner Bros, Rated MA, 120 Mins

In using a children’s fairytale as the title for her next horror movie ‘Twilight’ director Catherine Hardwicke is possibly hoping to attract fans of the ‘Twilight’ series and/or older devotees of the classic fairytale in her refashioning of the “Little Red Riding Hood” story featuring the key characters – a wolf, a young woman wearing a red hood and a grandmother.
   Amanda Seyfried (‘Dear John’) plays the beautiful young woman Valerie (alias Red Riding Hood) who is caught up in a love triangle involving two men.
Red Riding Hood
   She is in love with Peter (Shiloh Fernandez – ’Deadgirl’) a wood-cutter but her parents Cesaire (Billy Burke) and Suzette (Virginia Madsen) have arranged for her to marry the wealthy Henry (Max Irons – ’Dorian Gray’).
   Unwilling to lose each other Valerie and Peter plan to run away together until they learn that Valerie’s older sister Lucy has been killed by the werewolf that prowls the dark forest surrounding their mediaeval village.
   As the number of deaths increase the people of the village call on the famed werewolf hunter Father Solomon (Gary Oldman – ’The Book of Eli’) to help them kill the beast. Solomon’s arrival brings unintended consequences as he warns the people that the wolf takes on human form by day and could be any one of them.
   ‘Red Riding Hood’ is a darker, more adult adaptation on the fairytale with a convoluted plot and a misguided and uninspiring direction despite some suspenseful scenes and the performances of Seyfried and Oldman.
   What is amusing is the iconic Julie Christie playing (of all parts) the grandmother who Valerie suspects is the werewolf not to mention the association between Peter and the wolf which brings to mind another fairytale – ”Peter and the Wolf”.
   One can only surmise that the original storytellers (the Grimm Brothers) would not be impressed with this take of ‘Red Riding Hood’ which would also be shared by the majority of the audience.
VIC'S VERDICT:       1 ½ Rubber Stamps

Fair Game
   Release Date April 2011
   Director: Doug Liman, Sony Pictures, Rated M, 104 Mins

One of Sony’s newest releases in early April is the incredible true story of Valerie Plame from the director of ‘The Bourne Identity’ Doug Liman.
Fair Game
   In his exciting political thriller ‘Fair Game’ which takes place amidst Washington’s political environment Liman recreates the amazing story of the political victimisation of CIA operative Valerie Plame by members of the Bush Administration following the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
   The brilliant portrayal by Australian actress Naomi Watts of the central character Valerie Plame is complimented by Academy Award winning actor Sean Penn playing her husband Joseph Wilson.
    Liman’s movie has the same intrigue and suspense as the political classic ‘All the President’s Men’ (1976) but is presented as a more intense thriller that is set at a cracking pace which ensures that the viewer is watching each absorbing event unfold.
   Besides being one of Watts’ best performances to date it is also a riveting piece of film making that combines appropriate action sequences with political intrigue.
    ‘Fair Game’ is a thoroughly entertaining movie with an extraordinary storyline and together with a fascinating commentary by the real Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson featured on Blu-ray and DVD editions.
VIC'S VERDICT:       4 Rubber Stamps

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