About halfway through the idiotic dumbness that is Mechanic: Resurrection — the unasked-for sequel to the cesspit of unthinking nihilism and misogyny that was 2011’s The Mechanic — I found myself drifting into a feminist reverie. What if (I imagined, fancying myself in a better, smarter, kinder world) Jessica Alba’s Gina here were the mastermind pulling all the strings behind the scenes? What if, instead of the damsel in distress she appears to be, she is in fact manipulating all the overgrown boys with guns who get off on throwing violent tantrums, twisting them so that instead of spewing their deep-rooted anger and otherwise unexpressed self-hatred outward at innocents, they turned it on one another for the benefit of increasing the overall happiness of the world? I mean (I thought), this almost has to be the case: Gina is way overplaying the lady fair. She actually faints into the arms of Jason Statham’s professional killer Arthur Bishop when he rescues her. Well, the first time he rescues her. There will be others.
Though my fantasy theory doesn’t quite jibe with how events eventually resolve themselves, I am going to cling to this idea, because it makes the movie so much better than what is actually on the screen. Which is an absurd, often laughably inept assemblage of cheap and cheesy green-screen FX as backdrops for shootouts and punchups with anonymous armies of cannon fodder that 80s action movies starring martial artists long ago made redundant. Resurrection is directed by Dennis Gansel, yet another white male filmmaker handed the reins of a big-budget studio action flick even though he has no track record with such (while female filmmakers with track records cannot get work), and it shows. Resurrection is supposed to be intense and gritty, but it’s just silly.
♪ Missile Miiiike! ♪
Unless it’s secretly all about how Gina (Alba: Entourage, Barely Lethal) is ridding the world of its most notorious arms dealers. It’s actually the only good explanation for why the character of Gina exists in the movie at all. See, Crain (Sam Hazeldine: The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Grimsby), an old acquaintance of Bishop’s who is Very Bad Indeed, wants to eliminate his rivals, Krill (Femi Elufowoju Jr.: The Legend of 1900), Cook (Toby Eddington), and Adams (Tommy Lee Jones: Jason Bourne, Hope Springs). (Did you know that there’s a handy online chart that breaks down the global market share for nefarious underworld arms dealers? It’s color-coded and everything. Sad: The War Dogs guys haven’t made it onto it yet.) The fact that these are literally the worst people in the world — hobbies include turning kids into soldiers and the sex-trafficking of children — infinitely worse than being a lone-wolf freelance assassin like Bishop, apparently wasn’t considered justification enough by the movie for him to take on the job for Crain. Even though Bishop (Statham: Furious 7, Spy) has what should be sufficient personal interest to do so! (“I was an orphan… I was sold to an East End gangster.” I’m pretty sure the movie didn’t intend for us to laugh at this.)
Wait, what? Tommy Lee Jones is in this? The Tommy Lee Jones? Huh. (Actually, he’s more Tommy Lee Jones-fun here than he is in Jason Bourne.)
No, screenwriters Philip Shelby (Survivor) and Tony Mosher seem to believe that there was only one way that Bishop could be prodded into killing those three men… reluctantly, under great duress, even though he’s like the MacGyver of assassins and seems to love his work. Crain had to kidnap Gina and threaten to kill all the kids at the Phnom Penh shelter she runs for former victims of child sex-trafficking unless she agreed to entrap Bishop. The idea was that Bishop would instantly fall in love with her — seriously, she is like a smokin’ hot Mother Teresa, so who wouldn’t? — and then Crain could kidnap her again, take her away from Bishop, and keep threatening to kill her until Bishop finishes the three killings.
It doesn’t quite go to Crain’s plan. Of course not. It’s going to Gina’s plan. Obviously (though it skips over the bit about how Gina manipulated Crain into kidnapping her; I bet it was brilliant, though). What we see onscreen is apparently Gina becoming almost instantly genuinely smitten with Bishop, but clearly, she is faking. She must be, because as a noble do-gooder, she is actually repulsed by a professional killer like Bishop, not charmed by him. But if she can get him to wipe out the very men who hurt her shelter kids in the first place, and other men like him, the world will be a much better place. (Bonus: Bishop keeps promising to kill Crain, too, just on principle, so one more dead bad guy who can’t hurt people anymore.) So much that is seemingly stupid in this movie makes sense if Gina is behind it all. Like how, after telling her tale of geopolitical horror and abused children to Bishop, she can go for a nice relaxing sexy swim: she’s not worried about anything; she is in fact relieved that he has bought her sob story about needing to be lady-saved by a big strong brave man.
Doesn’t Jessica Alba look like she’s the mastermind here?
But Gina has even more surprising talents: She might actually be a witch. Like, a proper Harry Potter witch who can do magic. It’s the only way to account for how Bishop is able to carry out his globe-hopping assassinations on such tight deadlines. First he’s got 36 hours to get from Bangkok to Sydney to kill Cook, and like at least a third of that is eaten up by travel time alone. Then he’s got only 24 hours to get from Sydney to Varna, Bulgaria, to off Adams, and 24 hours is almost exactly as long as it takes to make that trip, at a minimum. I would say that Gina might have given him Hermione Granger’s time turner, except that would give away Gina’s game. So she is somehow manipulating not only petulant tantrum-throwing manchildren but time itself… all from the comfort of her “captivity” on Crain’s yacht. She arranges for Bishop to come across “shark repellent cream” at a street market just when he’s going to need it (if only Blake Lively had known about this stuff in The Shallows!). She enables him to make a replica of a key from only a photo of it. (Actually, that’s possible! This has been a public-safety announcement from Gina, who loves you. Please don’t post photos of your keys on Facebook!) Oh, and somehow she also teleports Bishop into a place he couldn’t possibly have gotten into — the safe room in Adams’s heavily fortified villain’s lair — without Bishop even realizing she’s done it.
This alt-version of Mechanic: Resurrection probably would have Michelle Yeoh as Alba’s mystically exotic and wise sensei, so it wouldn’t have been all that progressive, actually…
This woman isn’t just a badass, she’s a magical badass.
I wish the movie was about Gina…