So a little while ago SO and myself were drinking early evening White Russians on bar stools and the barman, a funny Korean guy who spoke almost no English, is joking around and trying to chat to us. After we ordered our third round he starts talking to the bargirl, then comes up and announces: they agree, I look just like the guy in Transformers.
Now, a few people around Asia have told me I look like any number of celebrities. Basically, any famous white guy with a shaved head. All the way back to Keanu Reeves in Speed, Brad Pitt (I wish, and so does SO), David Beckham, and even Bruce Willis (!?). But Shia Le Bouf? Me? Well, the photo is on the right, judge for yourself.
After five minutes fiddling on the computer that doubled as a jukebox, they spin the screen to show me the movie poster off the internet. Turns out he was trying to say The Transporter. Okay, Jason Statham. That makes more sense. Just a little, but I really, really don't think I look a whole heap like Shia Le Bouf.
I thought of this other day because I've seen a bunch of Statham movies recently. While he's quite happy to do crap for the money, he's also turned out some good stuff: Blitz is a decent, miserable little London thriller based on the Ken Bruen novel (which I haven't read yet, so no, I've no idea how they ruin it); The Bank Job is an excellent little heist movie set in 70s London; and The Mechanic is- well, you've seen The Transporter? And Transporter 2 and all those other movies where Jason beats the crap out of a bunch of unambiguously bad guys? Yeah, it's pretty much like that, with a smidgen more plot and a couple of twists.
I didn't know before but it's actually a remake of an old Bronson movie. By the time I came of cinematic age in my teens, Charles Bronson was cliched 70s crap. We had our own action movies: 48 Hours, Die Hard, Another 48 Hours, Die Harder, plus all that Arnie and Sly stuff. We hearked back to Alien and Aliens and Terminator, and the Vietnam movies: Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now. As far we were concerned, any American movie made in the 70s that wasn't set in space or Vietnam, that didn't feature Dirty Harry or Al Pacino, Satan or Shaft, that wasn't sexploitation, blaxploitation or SOME kind of -ploitation goddamnit, simply wasn't worth watching. Bronson was a joke.
Well, hell! I've watched my first beginning to end Bronson movie. Of course, I've seen a million little bits. But I watched the original Mechanic from begining to end. And you know what? Yes, it is better than the remake. Sure, plenty of scenes (and haircuts, and moustaches) have aged badly. But it's slower, more thoughtful, smarter, and more interesting.
And you know what else? I'm gonna watch Death Wish now. I really am. Don't try and stop me, I'm serious. I might even follow it up with Death Wish 2. My 1992 self is cringing, but my 2011 self is tired of Hollywood presuming I'm thick as two short ones. I'm gonna watch some dumb thrillers from the good old days, where they only presumed you were thick as ONE short one. With guns and stuff!