It’s hard to know whether to be angry at the filmmakers or frustrated with the audience about the gay content in The Mechanic. I suppose we should be glad that gays figure anywhere in this quickie actioner, even though the portrayal is hardly flattering.

Bishop (Jason Statham, above right), an experienced hitman, is training his protege Steve (Ben Foster, above left) how to take out a rival assassin. Bishop says the bad guy is gay, so Steve — a twinkie who looks to weigh 95 pounds dripping in paving tar —seduces him. As they begin to undress each other, straight men in the preview audience emitted audible, horrified chants of “Dude!” and “Gross!” and “Ah, shit, man!” (If they were smarter, they’d be quiet and let their girlfriends get turned on.)

It’s always a tough call: Do we respect director Simon West for introducing a queer character with a sexual appetite at all, or chastise him for using it like a club, eliciting cheers from the hetero hominids to kill the faggot? Alas, West — director of such detritus as Con Air and The General’s Daughter — is probably not someone worthy of much respect.

The film itself is a breezy 90-minute escapade that doesn’t develop much momentum; the climax is planned, executed and concluded is less time than most films would spend setting up the motive of the character. But it does have hottie Statham, star of

The Transporter movies, shirtless for a bit (alas, his sex scene is with a girl). And of course his Transporter character is gay, according to the director. It’s not much to hang your hat on, but we’ll take the fantasies as we find them.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Two stars.
Opens today in wide release.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 28, 2011.